Saturday 17 March 2012: A garden of memories
Our friends Bill and Ruby moved here in 1973, just after they married, when I was 8 years old. Bill was just about to retire and had not long since lost his first wife. Bill and Ruby became our special family friends. I remember them creating the garden from a wasteland - the house was new when they moved in, and the garden pretty much uncultivated ground. Just today I saw one of their notebooks from 2006 with records of their crops of blackcurrants, gooseberries and plums. For many years much of the garden was given over to vegetables and fruit. I recall Bill's meticulously laid rows of seedlings, and helping to pick peas and runner beans when they were ready. There is also a complete set of 15-20 ring-bound notebooks of Ruby's day to day diary and journal from 1973-2011 to read - what a legacy to leave!
As usual this spring, the smaller side pond (out of sight front left) is full of frog spawn. The pond and the garden were becoming too much for Ruby to manage, and she had some basic help, but the garden was not as smart as it was in its prime - the productive hours they lavished, and the enjoyment they (and others) reaped from their labours is treasured. I have succumbed so badly to the modern way of supermarket shopping rather than growing my own fruit and vegetables.
They loved their new home close to the Lake District and the Yorkshire Dales. They did a lot to encourage my love for the outdoors and walking. Above all their strong and practical Christian faith was an inspiration. They were a central part of the influential growing up years for myself and my two brothers.
Ruby nursed Bill through difficult times, by which time we had moved on and did not see them so often, but always they had a special place in our hearts, and we know we did in theirs. For the last few years since Bill died Ruby hugely enjoyed fellowship with a local church group and was much loved by many. She died between Christmas and the New Year, and we have the responsibility of clearing the house. It was sad and yet full of special memories. Our faith gives us the assurance that she and Bill have passed on to somewhere far better even than this place they loved so much.