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. . . .