Wednesday, February 11, 2015
Frank of the Bountiful Garden
Some of you might remember me writing about my neighbor Frank, Frank and his wife Dorothy. Frank and Dorothy were our neighbors on the west side. Were. I'm sad to report that Frank died Monday night, at home. He was 88.
Frank built the house that he and Dorothy lived in and the greenhouses where they ran their nursery business for most of their lives, there on their acre. They were already in their 80s, or nearly, when we met them, when we bought the country house. Dorothy already had the cancer that killed her a few years later. When we first started coming for the weekends and then longer weekends they were both still out there in the yard and garden every day doing stuff. Frank was still climbing up on the roofs of the greenhouses and their house making repairs. Dorothy had a large garden cart that she pulled along behind her for the carrying of stuff.
Their yard was always meticulously kept with flowers planted per season, mowed and tidy and free of weeds front and back...flower beds and hanging baskets and planters. And the garden and fruit trees...apple, pear, figs, peaches, blackberry vines, and two satsuma orange trees that produced literally thousands of oranges.
Frank was out there every day no matter how hot or cold. Hardly a week went by that he wasn't knocking on the back door with oranges or peaches or figs or long beans or carrots or broccoli or turnips or whatever. When my daughter would come out, he would load her up as well.
I liked to go over there and check out his garden, see what he was doing. It was always so abundant. Mine was, mine was definitely a beginner garden.
But then Dorothy's hip broke and her spine started to collapse and Frank was caring for her and then about 3 1/2 years ago she died and Frank sort of slowly lost his mooring. He still planted the garden though his son, Allen, was helping more and more but he'd forget to harvest with no one to cook or put up the food. A grandson lived with him for awhile but then Frank was living alone again and his mind was starting to deteriorate and he would forget to take his meds. Eventually his son and daughter arranged for 24 hour live-in care. And that has been the way of it for about a year and a half. We would see Frank out with his caretaker and go over and say hello or Zaide would bring him over if he saw us in the yard.
I hadn't seen Frank outside much since late last summer and Monday Marc saw Zaide out and went to talk with her. She told him that Frank mostly just ate and slept now, that the end was pretty near. And then he died that very night.
I'll miss Frank. I miss Dorothy. I miss our early years out here when they were both still alive and their place was full and abundant. Things will change now though as Allen thinks they will sell the property.
Fly high Frank.