Frost, faith and flowers

I am not a religious person.  Joan (JKK), my wife, is a believer, although she certainly does not wear those beliefs on her sleeves.  Those two truths came to mind this morning as I looked at Joan’s garden and the pretty flowers she picked yesterday after she got done planting her annuals.

Last week we had frost. It was sheer luck (in my opinion) that the freeze did not kill the perennials in JKK’s garden.  While still sparse, the garden is slowly starting to fill in. In a month or so, it will be lush. JKK will start here incessant weeding, by hand, of course. Her faith that an early frost will not kill, and that, with the helping hands of a hard-working old woman, flowers will emerge resplendent, strikes me as the ultimate triumph of hope over experience. But, then again, I do love her flowers.


A small part of Joan's flower garden.  It is sparse now as spring comes late in the high plains. Give it another month.

A small part of Joan’s flower garden. It is sparse now as spring comes late in the high plains. Give it another month.

First batch of flowers from Joan's garden. Many more to come.

First batch of flowers from Joan’s garden. Many more to come.


It was this time last year when my wife, Joan, began to lose weight.  I tossed it off to being exhausted as we prepared to see all three of the kids (and their kids) for the first time in a long time all together at our home.  The wry New Mexico oldest and her wonderful husband (plus their canine terribilis),  the group from China (with P and M from a recent post), and Fletcher (from a recent post) and his parents from Australia.

In August, the day after everyone left, Joan went to our family doc.  He took one look at her, and sent her to the gastroenterologist. A hurry-up colonoscopy followed by further probes at the hospital that same day revealed cancer. A rush to the medical oncologist followed by a visit to the radiation oncologist mapped out an aggressive treatment regimen. Then months and months of chemotherapy and radiation therapy followed. The chemo and radiation therapy were administered together.  The chemo was awful but the radiation, literally frying the lower abdomen and the nether regions, was far worse.* But, it worked. The cancer is gone, at least for now.

Below is a photo of flowers Joan picked yesterday in her garden.  She loves to garden, and she is very good at it.  With her strength returning, and although remaining very thin, Joan spends hours on her knees in the dirt.

Some things are more important than others.


*Being a good Catholic, Joan never complained, not even once.  This was just another “gift” from God.  It took all I could to restrain myself from saying, “If cancer, chemo and radiation are gifts from the almighty, he is one sick son of a bitch.”  But, then again, I accept all gods, even ones from Rome, at arm’s length, sorta like the way I approach everything else.

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