The water garden. I had no idea my husband had such a grandiose plan in mind. He just walked out to the back yard one day and started digging a hole. But it wasn’t just a do-yourself-project that took months to complete. To me, it was a symbol of his acceptance of a new stage in life, and a decision that it was time to move on to something productive. It was also therapeutic - an escape from some of the worry he was feeling, especially about Chase, our little grandson. Not only was he worried that this little boy might have some sort of disability, but also that we would eventually be raising him ourselves.
So, he dug gigantic holes and transformed them into a beautiful entity to behold and experience, especially in the spring, when all the water plants began to bloom – purples, blues, oranges, and bright pinks. The waxy sheen of the water lilies, like dozens of shiny green dinner plates floating atop the water. The delicate pink and yellow in the center of the graceful white water lilies. The pickerel plants – bursting straight out of the water like King Arthur’s sword, with purple-blue cylindrical blooms that seemed especially delicious to the bees and hummingbirds. The rushes, cattails, iris, elephant ears, and cannas bordering the water. And the water creatures – the fish and crawfish, the dragonflies, and butterflies. The frogs that sang at night. The rocks and the waterfall that sang in the daytime. They still, today, provide us with a tiny world encapsulating the beauty and wonders of nature, completely separated from the busy city grime, concrete, and steel just a few yards away.
When Matthew first began to develop the water garden, Chase was an infant. One of my fondest memories is a day during the last stages of the ponds’ construction, when Matthew filled the large, rubber-lined second pond with water. It was summer, and our daughter donned a swimsuit and sank into the cool water, holding Chase in her arms. It was one of those tiny memorable moments, full of unadulterated joy, watching him splash his little arms in the water, all smiles and baby laughter, his golden curls glistening with water droplets. So, when I look at the water garden now, I sometimes think of Chase, splashing away and laughing. In a lot of ways, the water garden has been like a child. Its vegetation grows every year, a little more. It’s sometimes a pain; without regular care, it gets messy, sludgy, weedy, and overgrown. But when it’s cared for, it’s beautiful. A symbol, for Matthew, of something marvelous he created with his hands; a symbol, for me, of a chubby-cheeked little boy, laughing – something he rarely did.