Saturday, July 11, 2009

Gardens of Remembrance

Retirement came easy for me. Having worked in the medical field for 35 plus years, I looked forward to the life of leisure - or so I thought. I enjoyed a few months of sleeping without the dreaded alarm clock ticking beside my head. I did as I pleased for a while but started to miss work. Cleaning house and working on the periodic house improvement project just wasn't enough. I missed socializing with co-workers, my patients, and feeling that sense of accomplishment - the feeling that I made a positive difference, if even a small one, in someone's life.

So... with the support of my children, I set out and found a job. I was hired as a landscaper and gardener for York Cemetery. I didn't know a thing about gardening and was terrified to venture out into an unknown career. Needless to say, after a few months of hard work and training, I grew to love my job. There wasn't the same stress as I knew in the hospital - No life and death decisions. There was a calmness that followed me around each day. Don't get me wrong though. There is a death aspect that comes along with working in a cemetery. Every day, I stand and bow my head as funeral precessions pass by. I watch people hug one another and cry for the ones they've lost. There are moments of sadness but,this is a part of life that will greet us all someday.

People finding out that I work in a "graveyard" have asked,

"Aren't you afraid? You're surrounded by so much death."

"Do you see ghosts or strange things?"

Some go so far as to say,

"You'll never find me working in a cemetery."

My response usually goes something like this.

"No I'm not afraid to work here. If anything, I find it peaceful."

As for seeing ghosts - There have been a few incidents when I thought I saw a shadow in the corner of my eye but when I looked up there was nothing there. Many of my co-workers have also experienced this. There's nothing to be afraid of. Personally, I believe that we are surrounded by spirits each and every day regardless of where we are. While working in the hospital I experienced many such encounters or, at least, I think I did. I can't explain what happened or why but have been left with the opinion that they where acts from beyond. Maybe someday I'll write a blog and share these stories, but for now, back to the cemetery.

Working in the gardens at the cemetery gives me that sense of accomplishment I needed. I can give that added touch to someone's grave site - special care to the flowers, washing the tombstone, mowing the lawn or trimming around the monuments. Standing back and looking at my work afterwards makes me smile. I hear myself saying, this would surely trigger a smile on the faces of family members of the deceased or even the spirit of the deceased him/herself. That's what it is all about for me - I can add a smile to someone's day and feel good about it.

Aside from working in my gardens, I also enjoy the wonderful scenery and wildlife around me. There is a beautiful array of colourful flowers to feast my eyes on and countless wee critters that join me on my trails - rabbits, squirrels, birds galore, resident geese and mallard ducks to name a few. I am a familiar sight to them just as they are to me. This season I've been observing a duck family for a number of months and would love to share their love story with you. The colourful male duck has been following the female around for weeks chasing off those who come close - myself included. He knows me now and doesn't run me off anymore which has made it possible for me to take a few photos of their cycle of life. Yes! There is life in the cemetery.

The following video is Part 1 of their story. Hopefully when the little ducklings hatch and are led to the water by the mother duck, I will capture those moments on film. Stay tuned -

Words I believe -

"Every flower is a soul blossoming in nature."
Unknown author

Have a wonderful day, my friends

Susan xo

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