Wednesday, 19 September 2007


Well, it had to happen one day and over the weekend it did. My Dad died after a short tussle with Cancer. I suppose that makes me an orphan? It also means that, suddenly, I’m in the front line.

But amongst the emotion and uncertainty there is one aspect that stands out in my mind and it starts in my childhood. When I was small, my Dad was a keen gardener. He tried his hand at most things; fruit, vegetables, flowers, you name it. But his passion was Chrysanthemums and he would grow them for entry at prize events at the local horticultural shows. Over the years he must have won a whole stack of prizes but all this industry meant that our garden never really looked like others. Normal gardens were awash with colourful blooms and lush foliage, but not ours.

In order to grow prize blooms you have to ensure that each plant only produces one perfect flower and this is achieved by removing all the other shoots on the plant so that it resembles a stick with leaves. Then, when the bud appears, you cover it with an inverted paper bag tied around the stem. This ensures that the bloom grows without ravage by insects and without being damaged by buffeting by other flowers or the weather. When it is ready to show you remove the bag and cut the stem.

I’m not sure my mother was impressed with our garden of swaying paper bags but if not, she kept quiet about it. When she died at age 40, we moved house and Dad lost his enthusiasm for gardening, but in his later years he returned to it and the sight of Chrysanthemums bobbing in the breeze were again a feature of his garden.

The weekend before last, he entered some of his blooms at the local village show and won not one...or two...but three first prizes. The next day he was rushed to hospital and died 6 days later.

As a final act on this earth, to win three first prizes for his flowers seems an entirely fitting epitaph.


Jayne Ferst said...

I'm sorry to hear this, my thoughts are with you and your family.

What a lovely tribute though, I love the imagery of the garden of swaying paper bags - and the fact that your dad won the top three prizes, I hope he was very proud.

musicobsessive said...

Thank you for your kind words. The funeral is on Monday and I'm down to do a reading so I'm just off to practice saying 'bestoweth' and the like. Help!