Those little Easter Gardens, and other stories

See the bay tree 

How big it’s grown
but friend it hasn’t been that long
it wasn’t big

you laughed at me and I got mad
the first day that I planted it 
was just a twig

Now my life’s an empty stage
where Bonnie lived and Bonnie played
and love grew up

and I remember still 
how she pulled you up that hill 
while I laughed and clapped…

well that is not a very inspiring variation of ‘Honey’ by Bobby Goldsborough.
It is funny how my deep and loving friendship with JM and my community has been distorted into something it wasn’t, to cover up wrongdoings by her, her husband and others.
JM and I were very close. Even though a number of things were wrong, including the way she crossed professional boundaries by intervening in my college courses when she was my counsellor, and taking me to her home, knowing what her husband had been accused of by his daughter who looked like me.
And then moving me into her home and getting Council Money for keeping me for that month or six weeks, which the church do not seem to have any register of.
JM, in the early days, said she wanted to be a mother to me, and make up for what I hadn’t had, and for a year or two I called her ‘mummy’ or ‘mammy’, but it didn’t matter as much as the loving friendship that we had.
Anyway, the Bay Tree is still there, unless it has been chopped down since I was last there. It was in a pot, JM had bought it or been given it, for her herb garden, and it was pot bound and growing, so she asked me to plant it out by the herb bed, it was quite a job with such a root ball, and such shallow chalky soil.
I had to cut it from the pot and work hard to dig a hole, watched unblinkingly by JM’s mother, who seemed to find my work fascinating whether she was in a loving me or hating me phase. (she was like that).
The song ‘Honey’ also reminds me of when JM’s dad died, and her mum fell and dislocated her hip within days of his death, JM raged at the hospital because they had said the artificial hip was un-dislocatable, and so JM’s mum was moved to Sarum Road private hospital, where we went to visit her. I remember sitting in the car park in JM’s car, and she had the CD of Honey in the car and I listened to it on the CD player.
JM’s mum was still proud and strong in hospital, not emotional, she wasn’t usually, apart from getting angry or raging about things in the paper.
It was when she came out of hospital that she became emotional, she was able to attend the funeral in a wheelchair, and it was in the days after that that  she would get upset a lot, getting upset over me and giving me extra money for my tasks in the garden and around the property. 
But she soon became herself again.
The last bit, I used to meet JM for the dog walk each day, and I used to stand at the top of the hill and shout to the dog and make her pull JM up the hill, oh how norty, poor JM, she couldn’t run! 🙂
The other thing about the song, Honey, is it reminds me about how JM used to say how her inner child would play with mine, we were like children playing, I guess a bit like I playplay with Elle and Polo and people. As I mentioned before, trauma has stunted my emotional maturity, so I am a bit childish.
It wasn’t JM’s fault that her husband misbehaved, and I think it hurt her, and she did believe both of us were responsible, even though I was in no state to be thinking about misbehaving, but it was her fault that she got involved in Jersey and liased with the Dean and the churchwarden to blacken my name and cover up for her husband.
It was sad to go back and see the rectory empty, and then briefly inhabited by someone who had a sports car, the bay tree had grown wild, and it wasn’t the same place that was part of my life for so many years, back when there was sunlight, spring and daffodils, and a life full of occupation.
And this song reminds me of FM and how he told me he had fled his violent father and his story to me of how he was seduced into a sex act by a female when he was too young, FM was a violent tempered man, but JM excused him that it came from his background, even though he had never tried to change. His violent temper scarred my life from age 19 onwards and has contributed to my own problems and my anger and my fear of men, I was afraid of him, and that is one of the reasons he got away with what he did. (His daughter and his first wife also apparently suffered badly because of his temper, but JM could contain him, because she was a very stubborn woman indeed, always right and always got her way no matter how he raged).
The Easter Gardens:

After years of not knowing what Easter was, Easter burst into life for me, I had had no idea it was such an event in the church, and to me, just waking from the dirty ghettos, Easter in Hampshire was beautiful. 
Easter in Hampshire was big excitement, daffidils blooming in the spring sunshine with the clear blue sky and beautiful spring green of my beloved home county.
Easter was a busy calender of church events to help with, excitement, flower arranging and stress, Easter was invitations and services and time with friends, time off work, it was joy and glory and light and wonder, it was all new and amazing.
One of my tasks, which JM would hand to me every year, was helping the young children to plant the Easter Garden every year, we would have an Easter garden service in church, and then we would go out to where the little bedding plants were to be planted, where the little model tomb had been placed, and JM would talk, and then she would get me to assist the children in planting and watering the bedding plants.
The Easter Garden would stay blooming through and after Easter.
The sun will always shine on those memories, so pure, before the darkness came. I was alive and life was so full, I had escaped to my home county, and everyone said I had a bright future.


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