We make a point of wandering the property every day. Two and a half acres. As the weather warms, we are delighted with new discoveries.
We didn’t just buy a house. We bought a homestead. Jay and Nancy lived here for 52 years. The original house was tiny – maybe 1,000 square feet, three bedrooms, one bathroom. They raised three children in that small house. It wasn’t until after their children moved out that they decided to do a major renovation on the house – adding a massive family room, and an upstairs master suite, with library.
When Nancy developed dementia, Jay did the best he could to care for her, but she was placed in a memory care facility in 2019. He wanted to be with her, and made the decision to sell, and move to a small apartment to be close by.
She was a gardener. As we met our new neighbors, we heard tales of Nancy’s devotion, and generosity. “We only recognized her from behind – she was always digging!” Every property on the street is decorated with hostas, iris, and peonies that she shared as she divided plants.
Nancy died in November. We’ve stayed in touch with Jay – sometimes delivering mail, always taking him cookies, or an occasional hot meal. During a visit to his apartment in January he seemed a little more awkward than usual.
“I have a strange question. I’ve got Nancy’s ashes back. I was wondering if I could take her to the gardens. I don’t know what else to do with her…”
When he called a couple weeks ago, it was one of the first warm days. The winter aconite and snow drops were putting on a dazzling show along the back tree line. “Today is the day. I’ll be over sometime after two. You probably won’t even know I’ve been there…”
We took that to mean he wanted privacy, so we retreated inside the house for the afternoon. We saw his truck across the street later that afternoon, he was likely visiting a neighbor, so we know he’d been by.
With each new discovery, we are just overwhelmed by the beauty. Tiny tulips (species tulips) and the most adorable jonquil (we’ve been calling them ‘dwarf-odills’). Scrawny bushes have burst into bright yellow blooms. Carpets of hyacinth, dotted with clusters of daffodils and narcissus. A friend has described this process – “the property is introducing itself to you.”
And we say “Thank you, Nancy”. Every day.