Garden therapy

Garden therapy

     Richard and Ganny crossed the gravel street that separated Ganny’s semi-treed property from Uncle Jack’s acreage, which consisted primarily of a large garden surrounding a stately, two-story house. At times obscured by the extended runners of the tomato, watermelon, and pumpkin plants, a well-worn dirt path meandered through the rows of crops and over dams bridging the irrigation ditches. It reminded Richard of Bud’s cornfields on a small scale. It could be manipulated easily with a few shovels of earth strategically placed here or there. Being a city boy, he didn’t know what many of the plants were, but he certainly recognized the tomatoes in various stages of ripening and the melons nearing maturity.
     Even though he was a city boy, Richard could appreciate the value of this fine, well-managed garden plot. He bet that his other grandma would have been envious, although she would never admit it. But then, she had to put up with a bunch of hooligans tramping around in her garden looking for foul balls from the whiffle-ball games.
     “Some garden, huh, boy,” Ganny commented to herself as much to Richard.
     “I’ll say. Uncle Jack must spend a lot of time out here takin’ care of his crops.”
     “Yeh, he does. Gots lots of patience and a farmer’s touch. Not like me. I’d be out here robbin’ the patch all the time instead of tendin’ to the growin’ like ya should. It’s good therapy for him though, since he couldn’t manage the runnin’ of the farm no more with his condition and all. This is just the right size for him. He ain’t no people-person. Never was, but since the war, he’d just as soon be by himself out in the field all day. Don’t have to deal with anyone. It’s even worse now with the nerve damage he got in the Great War when he got gassed. Now he shakes so bad that he’s got to hold his coffee cup with both hands just to get it to his mouth. Then he still spills some on himself and the floor. He’s gotten so self-conscious about bein’ around anyone when he eats that he won’t go out anymore where there’s any eatin’ to be done. Shame, really, to cut himself off so much from the world.”
     Hearing all this, Richard wondered whether it was such a good idea to meet him.
     “Do ya think it’s all right for me to bother him? Maybe he won’t want to see me, since I never met him before.”
     “Aw, shucks, he’s been lookin’ forward to your visit as much as me. He’s heard so much about ya and what a good kid y’are. Besides, it’s adults he don’t like much. He hates ‘em lookin’ at him when he shakes. Thinks they’re makin’ fun of him. And I know you won’t be starin’ at him or makin’ fun of him. You got a lot of respect for your elders. I can tell your mom taught ya that, and I hope maybe your dad had somethin’ to do with it too.”
     “Well, I’d only think it was the right thing to do considerin’ him bein’ a war hero and all. What exactly happened to him to get so messed up? Did he kill lots of Germans?”
     “Don’t know about the Germans. Think he was so sick of the war when he come home, there wasn’t much to tell. He once told me that a man shouldn’t be proud of killing another livin’ bein’. He couldn’t even bleed out a hog when he finally recovered after the war and got back to farmin’. Said it reminded him too much of the fightin’ in the Ardennes where he got machine-gunned by the Germans. He only told me once about it right after he got shipped home from the hospital. Guess it was always like a nightmare relivin’ it anytime he thought about it, let alone talkin’ about it.”
     “Where was he shot?” Richard wanted to get the details. He never knew anyone who got shot.
     “Got shot in the legs, the right one real bad. Shattered his thigh bone. They wanted to take it off when he finally got to the hospital from the Front, but he wouldn’t let ‘em. Said he would die from gangrene, ‘specially after layin’ in a muddy bomb crater with a dead German for two days in between the lines gettin’ mustard-gassed to boot. He told him he’d just as soon die if he didn’t have his leg for farmin’. I didn’t mention how stubborn he can be too. I guess they just had him lay in the bed for months until it healed finally. He told me once that bone splinters still poke through his skin on occasion. Anyway, he’s still alive and kickin’, but he’s got a bad limp instead of a peg leg. His tremor from the gassin’ is gettin’ worse as he gets older. Don’t think he’ll stop shakin’ ‘till they lay him down.”

coming soon

"Adventures in Medicine"