Death and Garlic

It all started with one bulb.

He was elderly with no family.  He gave me, direct from his garden, one bulb of garlic with specific directions to separate the bulb into cloves, plant on (exactly) September 4, lightly water throughout winter, and reap the benefits the following summer.

I was a little late on the planting date, but I got it done.  I couldn’t wait to show him my bounty last summer, but was unable.  He killed himself.  He had cancer and couldn’t bear the pain anymore.  He was alone and tired of asking for help.  He left a garden full of lovely vegetables, and a lot of questions never to be answered.

I was just someone he met through a fluke, and I loved listening to his stories.  I looked forward to his visits and flirted with him shamelessly.  He was buried in Arlington Cemetery but no one who knew him attended the service.  It was his greatest pleasure to be recognized as a Veteran.  He bled red, white and blue.  In his youth he’d been a cocky pilot during WWII.

I cried for hours when I was received the call.  If it hadn’t been for my horrific former boss, I would have still been able to be there for him.  She sure wasn’t.  He was just another person for her to use and discard when he quit giving her money.

I used the garlic last summer and saved two bulbs.  I gave one bulb to a friend (with instructions that upon harvesting, she too must pass on good karma and a bulb to be replanted) and separated the remaining bulb into cloves, planted them a little later (sorry Mr. M) than September 4, watered carefully, and again, am reaping the benefits of Mr. M’s generous gift.  I’ll always replant Mr. M’s garlic, and you can bet that every single time I use one of his cloves I say a silent prayer of thanks for knowing, albeit a brief time, this kind gentle man.

Maybe the title of this post should be Living and Garlic. . . .


21 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. nancyspoint
    Jul 25, 2011 @ 12:59:52

    Oh, what a sad story, but somehow lovely too. You just never know what a little kindness can mean do you? I’m so glad you were in this man’s life and that he was in yours as well. Now we ALL learn about him through your words. Thank you so much for sharing and I’m sorry for your loss.


  2. cpeezers
    Jul 23, 2011 @ 11:43:55

    Thank you for sharing this story about a lovely man. I’m sorry for your loss as well. The garlic has such beautiful meaning.


    Jul 21, 2011 @ 09:50:02

    I’m glad you were in his life before he died. I know he appreciated you, sweet lady. Keep reaching out to others. There are so many who just need a smile and an ear.


  4. Stacey
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 12:50:19

    Oh, Lisa. I’m so sorry. He sounds like such a sweet man. Thinking of him alone is heartbreaking, but I’m happy his gift lives on with the garlic you are so sweetly perserving.


  5. JulieD
    Jul 20, 2011 @ 08:59:16

    Lisa, I’m terribly for your loss and for the loss we all feel when we lose a veteran in this country. How heartbreaking and I’m sorry you could not attend his funeral. He is not forgotten because of this post and because of his garlic. Hugs to you.


    • Karma Per Diem
      Jul 20, 2011 @ 16:07:39

      Thanks Julie. He was so proud of being a veteran–that’s what he was most happy talking about. He’d bring me his medals, pictures, etc. to look atit was all very sweet.


  6. Sue
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 21:16:23

    I am glad Mr. M. had you in his life and I know he must have been glad too. What a lovely way to remember him!


  7. Charlie
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 13:06:42

    So well written. Love the way you convey his spirit and your affection for him.


  8. Katie
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 10:41:01

    Such a beautiful tribute to your friend!

    I am following you back! Thanks for stopping by and entering my giveaway! Good luck!


  9. mc
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 09:18:58

    I am just wondering if this is ordinary garlic that he was sharing with you or if he was passing a family heirloom on to you? Did he tell you a story about where it came from when he gave it to you?


    • Karma Per Diem
      Jul 19, 2011 @ 10:02:23

      I wish I knew what variety it is. It’s wonderful and it lasts an entire season–no spoilage, etc. It’s an elephant type, but it’s pretty strong, not mild at all. He was close to 90 and he did save all his seeds, etc. from one year to the next, so it’s no telling how “old” this garlic is! I would give anything to have another hour conversation with him to learn more….


  10. Garilynn
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 09:01:50

    A sad, beautiful story. DH is the family gardener and is always on the lookout for garlic and onion varieties. We love garlic in everything! Bless your friend for passing on his variety.


  11. Becky Warner
    Jul 19, 2011 @ 08:10:34

    So sad and touching.


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