When you work in a small garden centre many of the people passing through the doors become special gardening friends, and some become life long friends. We have seen relationships bloom, babies born, and mature into young gardeners.
And sadly we have lost many of our older favorite’s as they age and leave us.
I have one person who stands out, away from the rest, fond memories of a great customer, and a even greater friend.
He was definitely the most crotchety, and grumpy customer I had ever dealt with in all my years at garden centers. Upset with us because we did not have a ready supply of Aloe Vera 4 inch pots available immediately after reopening in the spring. And he declared that the 6 inch pots were much to expensive compared to the local Big Box.
Determined to charm him, and impress my new boss, I wheedled my way into his good graces, by explaining marketing ploys, and how a small independent could give him much better customer service, and choice, if only he would be patient until the plants were ready for sale.
We embarked on a friendship that only lasted a few years, but brought me much joy, and I hope that it did to him also. A prairie farmer, he had relocated to BC, to grow older. After he lost his wife, he kind of lost his way, old age, and pain taking him further from family, and friends.
He became a regular visitor to the garden centre, and my day was good every time I saw him. He would stand, leaning on his cane, and we would look at the plants in the retail greenhouse, and discuss life, until my boss’s glances told me it was time to return to work. Those were some of my best days.
My day dimmed terribly, when a close friend of his came to tell me that he had passed away over winter break. My friend had made sure to have someone come and tell me gently, but it didn’t help ease the loss.
There are some beautiful flowers in my garden of memories, one for each special gardener who shared parts of their lives with us.
They bloom perfectly in my mind.