My grandmother used to love gardening. She lived alone in a rather small house here in Jorvas, Finland (“the cottage,” we used to call it), but had a fairly large garden which she nurtured almost like a much-loved child. She spent hours caring for it every day.
I used to visit her once a month to help out. As she grew older, she had trouble looking after the garden as well as she wanted to. She often told me how much she appreciated my help, even though I was only around ten at the time.
One day, before I returned home from one of my visits, my grandmother gave me an old gold ring. Apparently it had belonged to her mother, and she wanted to pass it on to me, her only grandchild, as a way of saying thank you for my help in the garden.
That was the last time I saw her.
Two days later, we received a phone call from Bill, a friendly old man who lived next door to my grandmother. He used to check on her a couple of times a week. He’d found her in bed, thinking she was asleep. It soon became evident to him that she wasn’t going to wake up. She had passed away.
That very same day, I realized that I had misplaced the ring she gave me. I wasn’t even sure if I had brought it home with me from the cottage. I searched both her house and ours, but I was never able to find it.
It’s been eight years since my grandmother’s death. My family inherited the little house with the garden, and we’ve used it as a summer cottage ever since. During these eight years, I’ve kept my grandmother’s garden intact. I knew how much she cared for it, and I wanted to keep a piece of her alive.
A few months ago, I was planting a new apple tree in my grandmother’s garden. I discovered something shiny while I was digging in the dirt: a tiny, rusted little metal box. I forced it open. Inside, I found what I had been missing all those years: the ring she’d given me. Along with the ring, there was a note: “You forgot this, dear. I’ll leave it here where I know you’ll find it.”
That was the best day of my life! ❖
This article was published originally in 2015, in GreenPrints Issue #103.