My Garden, My Cousin Lody.

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  • By J-Dogg, Jonn Karsseboom
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You’d think that being outside (and in the garden) almost every single day of the year would make me sort of an expert in the passage of time. After all, I do have a front row seat to the slight alterations in leaves and blooms on plants (and trees) as they grow and die as well as being a first-witness to the sweeping and often dramatic, changes of the mighty seasons.

You’d think that being outside (and in the garden) almost every single day of the year would make me sort of an expert in the passage of time. After all, I do have a front row seat to the slight alterations in leaves and blooms on plants (and trees) as they grow and die as well as being a first-witness to the sweeping and often dramatic, changes of the mighty seasons.  

 

 Unfortunately, I’m still no expert in time.

 

That became readily apparent to me when I learned, via a text from my sister, that my cousin, Lody, had passed away. I had been on a tour bus at that very moment visiting plant nurseries in the area and I looked for a long while at the words on my phone more than once. It was a surreal moment.

 

I felt an instant wave of regret.

 

Lody was ten years older than me. I had only really met him once in person when I was in seventh grade and even then, I’m doubtful if we really did meet. We had, for all practical purposes lived very separate and individual lives. I didn’t know his exact sense of humor. I didn’t know what type of garden he enjoyed.

 

He had been married in 1993. The same year as me. He worked successfully in Amsterdam until that is, he became too sick. He joined Facebook about the same time as myself and on a cold day in January of 2010 he and I became “friends.” 

 

Later on, I would discover that while the analytics behind the monster FB program was helpful, it was Lody who brought all of the disparate members of the family together. He began the Karsseboom Family Page and took the time to welcome and organize and introduce. 

 

While I was watching cat videos and snickering to myself late into the night, Lody found lost family throughout Holland, Indonesia and South Africa and brought them together. Covertly I found myself glad to be part of his family movement.

 

He was like an unexpected, secret garden that I never had to tend. He kept “in touch” by commenting and complimenting and always, encouraging. One time he remarked on a photo posted of myself and brothers and sons. 

 

“What r u wearing, a gardening dress?” (It was my gardening kilt.)  He made me laugh.  I didn’t comment back.

 

That unfortunately was part of my regret.  Later, I learned (while outside in the garden) that Lody wasn’t expected to live more than three weeks. When I thought about it, it was about the time it takes an average perennial’s bloom to flower…and finish; the same time it takes for a tree to turn color and drop its leaves. I thought it best to write him a Facebook message to let him know that he made a difference to me.

 

Except, I didn’t.

 

I’ve learned that taking a moment in the garden is exactly that; a snapshot in time. The garden changes from day to day, plants and flowers tilt and color, daylight casts various shades and shadows, winds and breezes rustle through leaves, fragrance sometimes lingers. If I pay attention, it can be as different a scene from moment to moment as an action thriller movie.

 

And that’s the real trick. Days follow another without any accounting of how many we have left. “Write Lody a letter” made it to my list but it got no further. I wanted to tell him that from this far away distance and through his sheer generosity he had made an impact. That through him, he taught me to pay attention to those around me because it can make a difference; sometimes in ways we can’t possibly notice.  Lody, in a way, told me to be present more. 

 

Late one night I searched his last entries on Facebook. His very last one was two days before he died. He took the time to wish my nephew, his cousin once removed, a happy birthday. It was another simple gesture of generosity.

 

The next morning as I began another day in the garden, the morning was serene and cold and still. I watched the leaves from an amazingly colorful maple quietly fall to the ground one by one. It was the ending of a season and the beginning of another it seemed and I thought of my distant, now lost, cousin. It was another chance I supposed, thanks to him, to start again. This time I won’t hesitate.

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