My wildlife garden has always been a source of inspiration and a welcome respite from the pressures of daily life. Lately, however my time spent in the wildlife gardens around me has become a source of solace, comfort, and healing. I find peace in the beauty of the world around me. These are nature’s gifts.
I have been blessed in my life because I had two moms and a wonderful dad. When I was quite young my parents rented a room to a dear friend of theirs and “Aunt Jane” has been with us ever since, filling the role of nurturing parent, chief encourager, and great listener, and wonderful support system.
After my dad passed away 15 years ago my moms retired to Florida in a small community where they had many friends, and I loved to go and visit them there and have the opportunity to view so many of Florida’s birds, butterflies, and other wildlife.
Several years ago my mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and Aunt Jane became her primary caretaker. She became my mom’s safety net, protecting her, caring for her, and allowing her to enjoy a quality of life that would not have been possible otherwise.
Eight weeks ago Aunt Jane was diagnosed with liver disease (ironic because that is the same disease that took my father from us). I wanted to go down and visit with them at that time, but Aunt Jane has always been very independent. She assured me all was well and she was still able to care for my mom.
Five weeks ago toxic levels of ammonia built up in Aunt Jane’s system, causing her to suffer a seizure and she was rushed to the ER. I spent four weeks in Florida caring for my mom, being with Aunt Jane, and fulfilling the list of chores she gave me every day as the reality of her situation began to become clear to us.
I spent a few minutes each day outside exploring nature’s gifts and finding comfort in the beauty of the natural world around me. One day I witnessed a joyful dance of a large group of Sandhill Cranes, a beautiful bird indeed, and one I had never seen so closely before.
Another day I walked around the corner from their home to witness the “Stork House,” a particular house in their development where large flocks of Wood Storks, Egrets, and Herons gather to roost every night. And during the day they stand around the stone “lawn” like beautiful garden art and statuary.
The liver disease is progressing rapidly and last week I brought my moms home to my brother’s house in New Jersey (he is away visiting his daughter who just had her first child).
Aunt Jane is now in hospice care here at the house, but I have become her full time caretaker as well as caring for my mom. Caretaking with an illness of this type is a round the clock job, and to all of you who are also in this role, my heart goes out to you!
I am learning to take care of myself while trying to take care of both moms and honor Aunt Jane’s process as she tries to put her affairs in order and face this situation with dignity and her wonderful sense of humor.
My solace comes from the few minutes here and there I am able to spend out in the garden surrounded by the many wonders of nature. Every day brings some beautiful bird, butterfly, spider, deer, or other wildlife into my life to bless me with the calmness and serenity to make it through another day.
These small blessings are such an amazing healing presence in my life, from the Great Horned Owl who calls every night, the cedar trees dripping with migrating warblers, the deer who come to feed right outside Aunt Jane’s window, and so much more.