Memory is the diary we all carry about with us, wrote Oscar Wilde.
But for me, diary is memory. Years of memories.
Family, home, garden, daily life.
Diaries played a small role in my overall life, but became a huge part of my post-accident experience. With little sense of time, and often no memory of events just minutes after they happened, I started writing in my journal again.
Little things. Big things. Write it down quickly.
A doctor played a key role. She told me to record events as they happened, figuring I could share these entries with the medical professionals I visited. My memory and speech problems were so bad, she noted, that “No other specialist will take two hours to try to figure out what you are saying. Write.”
Of course, that’s not word-for-word. But I scribbled down her order.
I returned to keeping journals. Some of the entries were so painful, I vowed to never re-read them.
The best? Entries about time with family.
Next best: time in the garden.
I used to keep a journal to track my gardens’ progress. The major triumphs and minor tragedies, the plans carried out and those forgotten.
Now, no longer able to garden, I was reduced to observing. But observing led to writing and writing led to “remembering”.
The first spring bulbs to bloom.
The first night-bloomer of the season.
The first time the fern-leaf peonies – presents from friends Les and Sandra – bloomed.
The hollyhock that bloomed in two colours.
The mysterious flower that showed up one summer.
Red currants, seeds planted by birds or breeze.
When your brain doesn’t work efficiently, you misplace things. When you’re in too much pain to move, you can’t go looking for things somewhere else. So I learned to keep the garden journal on the verandah, and other journals in every room of the house.
An onlooker, seeing me writing on that lovely verandah, might have thought: “What a charmed life.”
But as my mother always said : “Never envy others. No-one knows what troubles they have.” I was – quite literally — writing to save my life.
Looking back, I’m astonished at some of the lovely things that happened. Things to be grateful for. People to be grateful to.
I’m shocked at the development of this garden, as captured in my journals.
Grateful to my husband, for building arbours, dividing plants, maintaining the garden — in addition to everything else that landed on his plate.
Some of what I read evokes real memories. They bring tears, laughter, delight, wonder.
Some of it is not at all familiar. It’s like reading about someone else’s life, but knowing it’s yours.
Photos by Hamlin Grange
62 thoughts on “Flowers, Memories, Diaries”
Beautiful garden photos. thank you for sharing. You and your husband have done gorgeous work.
Thank you. My husband has worked hard. I just get to give him directions — and he follows them. Anyone who’s ever driven with a man knows that’s a major triumph! (Big smile). Pls. forgive the stereotype.
Stereotypes are fine with me, they speak volumes…that’s why we have them. My husband is a rocket scientist who can’t boil water.
Something about being a rocket scientist who can’t boil water made me laugh out loud! Thanks for this witty reply.
They look like wonderful memories Cynthia. I hope your health and memory are better these days. Good reminder that we don’t know what others are going through. The best is to listen, ask questions and help if possible. Thanks for touching my life via our blogs. 🙂
It’s a shared privilege, Brad. Thanks to you, too because your blog enhances my own life experience.
Cynthia, what a touching post. I’m so sorry to hear of your disability. I had no idea it was as serious as you described. You are a real blessing and example to us all. 😀
Thanks, Levi. I hope God makes me a blessing to somebody. As often as possible.
Having a screwed up brain and body can remove all false pride from a person, you know.
Maybe that’s why I laugh at myself so much these days.
You are a blessing to many, Cynthia. Remember that. I’m thankful you have a great husband to care for you!!!
Such a brave woman to write so moving a post. May God bless you and your family.
Thanks, Clare. I pray the same for you.
As my mother would have said “Everyone is going through something.” So many of the bloggers in my network either have gone, or are going through something. I think you are very brave yourself, BTW.
When things get too gloomy around here, I write a funny blog post, and when you and others laugh, it lifts up my spirits no end!!
Fab pictures and a moving post. It’s interesting how going through such hardship brings you out the other side with so much strength. You may not feel like it, yourself, but you always strike me as amazingly sorted, grounded and together person. And your husband is clearly a lovely chap too. I hope the garden continues to please you, along with the loud out of tune singing in church and all the other joyous moments life brings.
Thanks so much, MT.
I think it’s the truly awful church-singing that does it, myself.
Life continues to amaze.
I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had such a time of it and I hope there is a lot of healing in your future. I’m sure that reading about your strength must be helping those who find themselves in the same circumstance.
Thank you very much.
I’m not so sure it’s strength! It may just be stubbornness!
If it keeps you going, I’m all for it!
Great post, beautiful garden, and good photos! Hugs, Natalie 🙂
What a wise doctor you had. I think that is a brilliant idea to have a journal in every room. Your post reminded me of the educational/memory tool of the commonplace book http://quinncreative.wordpress.com/2013/04/30/the-commonplace-journal/ My mother finds it difficult to write her diary these days. Being unable to do so has had a profound effect on her peace of mind, her memory and her general well-being. She has been a diary writer for more than 8 decades; she feels the loss tremendously.
My heart goes out to your mother. That must be almost as tough as losing the capacity to read books, when you’ve been a lifelong reader. (And one of the main reasons I implore people to read to others — or give them audiotapes).
I enjoyed the quinncreative blog post. Those “commonplace journals” that I kept in every room became of great help in completing my first book.
Yes, my doctor is smart. At the time, I think she was totally frustrated with me! I acknowledged her in A Good Home and she got a chuckle out of that.
And lazy family that we are, we rely a lot on our mother’s diaries to remind us of daily happenings; so we miss her diary keeping too. She can dictate but it really isn’t the same as that important contact of hand to pen to paper.
So true. If I had to dictate to someone else, nothing would get written!
Beautiful and quiet garden. On a envie de s’y promener, de s’y reposer. Endroit propice au partage et au ressourcement sans doute…
D’accord, Christiane. Merci.
Your reminder about never knowing what other people’s lives are really about is both true and a call to compassion. Thank you for sharing this wisdom!
You are very welcome.
Thank you. Being part of our blogging community has shown me that everyone is dealing with something, no matter how calm we seem.
I have been writing my memories for years. Most of my diaries were from periods of travel, or anxiety filled life events. I leave the later for some time of reflection, or the next generation to puzzle over.
Recently, in preparation for a vacation to Italy next year, I found my travel diary from 24 years ago. I spent two weeks in Rome. I was amazed at places that I had visited, but my memories were faded. Now, blogs fulfill that role.
P.S. My wife also says that blogging in a great improvement over my penmenship of 24 years ago…
What a lovely reply. Thanks for it. Our memories do fade, with time. That’s why I always advise others: keep a journal! Take pictures! and you’re so right: blogging is another way of keeping track.
Your Mother was so right about not envying others. It’s wonderful to see how you fought through all of that to become the lovely, humble lady you are now, sharing your easily enviable talents with us. Never stop.
Thanks, Jo. I appreciate your reply. Knowing what it was like to not be able to write, I now write, write, write — especially when I’m having a really bad day.
This is the story of a journey …. to recovery. And you’re getting there. Your garden never ceases to amaze and your veranda begs for afternoon tea!
Thank you, kind Ma’am.
I hope you will come to afternoon tea. Though you know about my tea-making abilities…..
Your garden, and your journey are both amazing. Your diligence in diary-writing, I envy. I have big gaps of time where I’m not entirely sure what happened, and I sure would like to have a book to look it up in. Love that veranda. I imagine I could sit there from dawn ’till dark just reading a book or having a leisurely chat.
I can’t recommend journal-keeping strongly enough, but I think your blog is an effective journal too, Rosie.
It’s a great old verandah. People come to visit me. Their goal is to cheer me up, but they often just sit there, finding peace. I think it’s a magical place.
Someone once told me “we all have a story that we need to listen for and respect”. I believe that someone was my Grandmother :-). Thank you for continuing to share your story Cynthia and Hamlin. With love and blessings, Judi & Nick
Thank you both so much, Judi and Nick.
Wishing you a good weekend.
Beautiful musings Cynthia. I imagine my children one day after my departure from this plane, reading my journals and laughing, crying, being surprised, shocked and finally maybe understanding their mother. “A life worth living is a life worth recording” – Tony Robbins
Thank you, Marguerite. Great comment. I’m glad you enjoyed my musings.
I journal daily and I often feel I would be lost without it, and I haven’t experienced whatever horrible accident/tragedy has befallen you. I give you much credit for your resilience, your perseverance in the face of such difficult odds and your continuing to write. Writing is a lifeline, indeed.
Thanks very much, Jeanne.
I’m pleased to learn that you journal too.
Oh Cynthia this was such a lovely post. I love your sincerity and honesty. Your garden is just a dream and your porch so welcoming and calming. I’m glad you are willing to share your challenges and it is so true about not really knowing about the challenges that others face. We are all so quick to make judgements. Thank you for sharing this – just beautiful!
And I love your reply. Thank you for it, Kate.
Reblogged this on Cynthia Reyes .
Such a moving post! Your mother was a wise woman. And bravo to the doctor who told you to write and keep a journal.
Just lovely…words and photos!
Lovely, moving post, Cynthia. The garden looks blissful (and I want a fern-leaved peony). I’m so glad you kept those diaries and I can only imagine the effort involved. It was definitely worth it.
What a long road you’ve had to traverse, Cynthia. I’m always amazed at the distance humans can go once they put their mind to it. Kudos!
Cynthia, ironically I think the blue flower that just appeared is a Forget Me Not! The photos are lovely and I want to join you on the Verandah.
What a beautiful post about what must have been/is a terribly difficult time. I have no excuse, but a terrible memory, which is why I love blogging – it is a perfect journal of my garden! What a beautiful garden you have and I love your verandah!
I hope your pain has eased since you first wrote this because I know well what kind of pain it is you speak of.
I’ve found that my own often debilitating pain was caused in some ways by stress, and it’s much more manageable these days. I hope the same for you Cynthia.
Thanks for sharing your memories through your journals with us. Very sweet.
As you know, I take direction from our Head Gardener, too. I do hope you will be more mobile sometime
Thanks, Derrick! I’m walking, with the help of a brace and a cane. Much to be thankful for, especially in Spring, when I walk in the garden.
You are so positive
Your post inspired me. 🌸
Well, since your book reviews inspire me, special thanks!
Thank you!! 🙂
Hi Cynthia ..I agree such a moving post, you are an amazing girl. Thanks for sharing these photos and memories ..Hamlin did a wonderful job In that garden, what a great guy he is!
You are a warrior woman Cynthia. And journaling has saved many. Gorgeous gardens! 🙂