Suzanne Lambert Storyteller, Author and Blogger House With Garden
© 2013 - 2019 Suzanne Lambert | All Rights Reserved
House with the Inside Garden The room was empty except for the old lady sitting on a chair looking out of the window where the pretty lace curtains which had been her pride and joy no longer hung.   Jenny had never held with blinds, people should be able to look out of their window and watch the world go by she thought, remembering the hours sitting at her sewing table waving to the neighbours as they made their way to the shops or the bus stop at the end of the street. In the summer when her window was open they would often stop for a chat. It was Jenny’s favourite place in the whole house where she could see the houses across the street that had gardens. For more hours than she could possibly ever imagine Jenny had planned every inch of those gardens in her mind just in case one day she would have one too. Two weeks ago her neighbour’s daughter Margaret passed with her twins in the pram and Jenny had caught her breath as she waved to them with a sweet smile on her face that never told of the pain that suddenly surfaced every now and again, even after all this time. Sweet old Jenny they called her.  Well there were worse things to be called she supposed. Eighty five years old she was now and had been married for sixty of those years to Albert. This was the only house they had ever lived in. A small house Albert said but don’t worry my Jenny, I have big ideas and one day when the little ones come along we will have a house with a garden, just you wait and see. Jenny didn’t know at that moment how to contain her excitement,  children and, a garden. A garden with lots of pretty little flowers of so many different colours and there in the middle a little fountain. She would chase the children round the garden and in the evening they would all sit at the table outside for tea and Albert would tell her all about his day at work and she would tell him about the children’s day and what they had been up to. It was the most perfect image and the last things she thought about before falling asleep with a smile on her face. Never in sixty years had either Jenny or Albert discussed why the children never came along. Albert would simply squeeze Jenny’s hand, cough embarrassingly, nod his head and begin busying himself with something if Jenny ever became upset.  Jenny knew all too well that Albert felt the pain too but was never one for displays of emotions, they embarrassed him.  Jenny always knew when she found him pottering about in his shed in the back yard that something had upset him. It was different today of course. Today it was talked about, tests were taken and many IVF babies had been born to those who were unable to have children the natural way.  Back then thought Jenny we just accepted it and pretended it didn’t matter. Soon the nieces came along and Jenny and Albert became godparents not once but three times. They were a wonderful Aunt and Uncle and took their god-parenting duties seriously. Aunt Jenny and Uncle Albert were wonderful to be with and the children shared many happy holidays and days out with their godparents and were truly spoiled every Christmas and birthday. People had naturally whispered amongst themselves and wondered but the question was only raised once and Albert had glared at Jenny’s sister so hard nobody had ever asked again. Jenny never wanted to know whose fault it was.  Honestly what was the point in that?  Anyway if it had been her fault she was not sure she could have handled it. So the years went by and they said nothing. They had each other and they never had any need to move to a bigger house.  Jenny remembered clearly the day her first niece had been placed in her arms. To her embarrassment her eyes had immediately filled with tears and Jenny was afraid she might actually burst into tears. Her mother had patted her on the shoulder, it’s just the way things are meant to be our Jenny, she said quietly, it’s just God’s way. That was the nearest anyone every came to mentioning the fact no children had come along for them.  Albert spent many hours making their small house a happy home and anything Jenny wanted for the house she could have. The pretty lace curtains with the rose embroidered tie backs were Jenny’s first extravagance. After that came the flowery cushions, flowered bedspread, which Albert didn’t like at all but put up with and the kitchen had a poppy tablecloth and chair covers. Jenny loved her house very much. I have my garden inside she would laugh. They had a beautiful back yard and a small shed. Over the years ‘the girls’ as Jenny called her nieces always made sure they bought her flowers and pot plants for the back yard making it as pretty as possible for her. Every room in the house had a picture of a beautiful garden and for their 50th wedding anniversary the girls had booked Jenny and Albert on a coach tour round the most amazing country gardens. It had been incredible and Jenny had talked about nothing else for months.  Her favourite place to sit was by the window, never failing to admire her pretty lace curtains as she sat at her sewing table embroidering names on baby blankets or making toys for the children. It was a sad day when she realised that her fingers were no longer able to sew and anyway they all bought what they wanted off the internet these days. Nothing was home made any more. How could that ever replace something made with love she thought as she remembered the hours and devotion she had put into every single gift she had made, always so excited to wrap it in tissue and place it in the gift box. Everything she made had a little embroidered flower on it somewhere. It was Aunt Jenny’s signature mark, everyone knew that. The sewing table was gone now. The room was quiet. The only sounds were those coming from the kitchen as the girls removed the last of Aunt Jenny’s bits and bobs as she called them. They loved their Aunt dearly, actually she had done them an injustice when thinking they would prefer to get their gifts off the internet. All the girls absolutely loved their blankets and toys from Aunt Jenny. They were lovingly and carefully wrapped and put away but would always be cherished by all of them. There were no longer any photographs on the mantelpiece or vases of flowers in every room. Every picture, ornament and photograph had been carefully wrapped and taken to Jenny’s new home. Jenny looked around the empty room remembering all the hopes and dreams from the many years they had been married. How on earth could time pass so quickly, where had it all gone? It had been fine until the final indignities of old age meant she was no longer able to look after herself. Albert hadn’t suffered at all at the end, Jenny thought, and she was glad of that except that there wasn’t a single day went by that she didn’t wish with all her heart that he was still here with her.   Last night Jenny had insisted on being left alone with her thoughts for what was to be the last night in her house with the inside garden. Today the house was almost empty with just the last few things to be taken tomorrow but all Jenny had to do was close her eyes and she could see it all. The pretty plant pots that sat in a line all the way across the kitchen window so Jenny could see them when she washed up. The pictures all the way up the wall as you walked upstairs to the bedrooms and then the pretties of wallpaper with tiny little poppies on the bedroom with, of course, matching pillow cases and bedspread. Jenny smiled remembering the last time Albert woke up sneezing. Do you think you have caught a cold she asked him?  Don’t worry he said laughing I will get some antihistamine later, I think I’ve got hay fever off the pillow cases. Jenny threw a poppy printed cushion at him and they had laughed about it all morning. In quieter moments, it had always pained Albert that the one thing they never quite managed was to move to a bigger house with a garden so if his Jenny wanted her garden inside the house who was he to complain. Jenny always had hope. One day she would say to herself, please God one day could I have a little garden,  just a tiny bit of lawn and a fountain she would whisper, her hands in the prayer position. Today as Jenny sat looking out of the window in her house with the inside garden she felt for the first time she may just cry. There was no point now in hoping any more, it was too late. She knew the girls would still come to see her, of course they would. She was their sweet Aunt Jenny and they loved her, of that she was quite sure. That would have to be enough. She’d had her Albert and a long and happy life. She took one more look at the gardens across the road and swallowed back her tears. Come on old girl she whispered to herself, come on now, as she turned from her window for the very last time. It was time to leave the girls said,  Jenny had waived them aside when they wanted to fuss about taking her along to look at her new home but Jenny wasn’t in the least bit interested. She trusted them, wherever it was it would be fine. If it wasn’t her home with the inside garden then honestly she really wasn’t all that bothered what it was like. Maureen kissed Aunt Jenny on the cheek and gave her a smile. Ready Aunt Jenny? It was only a short journey and Jenny chatted non-stop all the way there. She was nervous if truth be told. They were going in through the gates now and Jenny was afraid to look.  Maybe she wouldn’t like it after all, how ridiculous she should have come along as the girls suggested. Oh my, she thought, then took a deep breath lifted her head and looked at her new home for the first time. It looked nice enough she supposed. The girls were giggling as they settled Aunt Jenny into her wheelchair and it was then she noticed the look on her girls faces. Now then, what was going on,  Jenny knew her girls well. What are you up to my girls, I know you are up to something, I’ve seen that look on your faces on more than one occasion and…………  Wait and see Aunt Jenny said Maureen, Patricia and Lucy who had to turn away from their aunt as tears were threatening to flow. Close your eyes darling the girls said to her, please indulge us. On this beautiful spring day Jenny closed her eyes and felt the warm breeze on her shoulders as she was pushed along the path. The first thing she heard was the creak of a garden gate and it was then that she smelt them, flowers, hundreds of flowers and the sounds of trickling water. Open your eyes Aunt Jenny the girls said, who were now no longer able to stop themselves from crying. Oh she said her hand flying to her mouth to stop herself from shouting out loud, oh my, oh my, she said. All around there were roses, geraniums, gladioli and hundreds of other beautiful flowers that she could see as the girls pushed her around the Rose Garden retirement home.  There was a circular path all the way round the garden with benches to sit on and little tables to enjoy a cup of tea.  There were in fact two fountains, one on each side of the garden and Jenny thought she had never seen anything so beautiful in her whole life.  Jenny could think of nothing to say, she was so taken aback and anyway she was concentrating on keeping her hands from shaking she was so very excited. She was telling the girls what each of the flowers were called, what type of soil they needed and which ones would be blooming next. Janet who had just introduced herself as Jenny’s main carer was impressed, well you certainly know a lot about gardens Jenny, she said. She must miss her own garden, she whispered to the girls. You have no idea they said all laughing together. There was one more surprise for Aunt Jenny they said as they pushed her to a sunny spot in the garden beside the water fountain and they all sat around her. They had received an envelope from the solicitor they explained with a note from Uncle Albert saying ‘Just in Case I get sent packing first’. They had opened it and found the details to the Rose Garden retirement home but had kept it a secret until now. There had also been a little present for Jenny to be kept for such a time as this.  Maureen placed the pretty gift wrapped box on Aunt Jenny’s knee. It’s from Uncle Albert she said.  Jenny’s eyes filled with tears, what on earth could it be. Slowly she undid the ribbon and took the lid of the box and burst out laughing.  It was a pair of gardening gloves, a small trowel and a pack of flower seeds. It was late evening and the sun had gone in but all the lights in the garden had now come on and Jenny thought it was the most incredible and beautiful garden she had even seen in her life and every morning when she looked out of her bedroom window this is what she would see. The gardener had finished digging a little patch of garden that was to be all her own and tomorrow she would plant her seeds and watch them grow. Thank you Albert darling, whispered Jenny, you got me my outside garden after all.
Suzanne Lambert Storyteller, Author and Blogger House With Garden
© 2013 - 2019 Suzanne Lambert | All Rights Reserved
House with the Inside Garden The room was empty except for the old lady sitting on a chair looking out of the window where the pretty lace curtains which had been her pride and joy no longer hung.   Jenny had never held with blinds, people should be able to look out of their window and watch the world go by she thought, remembering the hours sitting at her sewing table waving to the neighbours as they made their way to the shops or the bus stop at the end of the street. In the summer when her window was open they would often stop for a chat. It was Jenny’s favourite place in the whole house where she could see the houses across the street that had gardens. For more hours than she could possibly ever imagine Jenny had planned every inch of those gardens in her mind just in case one day she would have one too. Two weeks ago her neighbour’s daughter Margaret passed with her twins in the pram and Jenny had caught her breath as she waved to them with a sweet smile on her face that never told of the pain that suddenly surfaced every now and again, even after all this time. Sweet old Jenny they called her.  Well there were worse things to be called she supposed. Eighty five years old she was now and had been married for sixty of those years to Albert. This was the only house they had ever lived in. A small house Albert said but don’t worry my Jenny, I have big ideas and one day when the little ones come along we will have a house with a garden, just you wait and see. Jenny didn’t know at that moment how to contain her excitement,  children and, a garden. A garden with lots of pretty little flowers of so many different colours and there in the middle a little fountain. She would chase the children round the garden and in the evening they would all sit at the table outside for tea and Albert would tell her all about his day at work and she would tell him about the children’s day and what they had been up to. It was the most perfect image and the last things she thought about before falling asleep with a smile on her face. Never in sixty years had either Jenny or Albert discussed why the children never came along. Albert would simply squeeze Jenny’s hand, cough embarrassingly, nod his head and begin busying himself with something if Jenny ever became upset.  Jenny knew all too well that Albert felt the pain too but was never one for displays of emotions, they embarrassed him.  Jenny always knew when she found him pottering about in his shed in the back yard that something had upset him. It was different today of course. Today it was talked about, tests were taken and many IVF babies had been born to those who were unable to have children the natural way.  Back then thought Jenny we just accepted it and pretended it didn’t matter. Soon the nieces came along and Jenny and Albert became godparents not once but three times. They were a wonderful Aunt and Uncle and took their god-parenting duties seriously. Aunt Jenny and Uncle Albert were wonderful to be with and the children shared many happy holidays and days out with their godparents and were truly spoiled every Christmas and birthday. People had naturally whispered amongst themselves and wondered but the question was only raised once and Albert had glared at Jenny’s sister so hard nobody had ever asked again. Jenny never wanted to know whose fault it was.  Honestly what was the point in that?  Anyway if it had been her fault she was not sure she could have handled it. So the years went by and they said nothing. They had each other and they never had any need to move to a bigger house.  Jenny remembered clearly the day her first niece had been placed in her arms. To her embarrassment her eyes had immediately filled with tears and Jenny was afraid she might actually burst into tears. Her mother had patted her on the shoulder, it’s just the way things are meant to be our Jenny, she said quietly, it’s just God’s way. That was the nearest anyone every came to mentioning the fact no children had come along for them.  Albert spent many hours making their small house a happy home and anything Jenny wanted for the house she could have. The pretty lace curtains with the rose embroidered tie backs were Jenny’s first extravagance. After that came the flowery cushions, flowered bedspread, which Albert didn’t like at all but put up with and the kitchen had a poppy tablecloth and chair covers. Jenny loved her house very much. I have my garden inside she would laugh. They had a beautiful back yard and a small shed. Over the years ‘the girls’ as Jenny called her nieces always made sure they bought her flowers and pot plants for the back yard making it as pretty as possible for her. Every room in the house had a picture of a beautiful garden and for their 50th wedding anniversary the girls had booked Jenny and Albert on a coach tour round the most amazing country gardens. It had been incredible and Jenny had talked about nothing else for months.  Her favourite place to sit was by the window, never failing to admire her pretty lace curtains as she sat at her sewing table embroidering names on baby blankets or making toys for the children. It was a sad day when she realised that her fingers were no longer able to sew and anyway they all bought what they wanted off the internet these days. Nothing was home made any more. How could that ever replace something made with love she thought as she remembered the hours and devotion she had put into every single gift she had made, always so excited to wrap it in tissue and place it in the gift box. Everything she made had a little embroidered flower on it somewhere. It was Aunt Jenny’s signature mark, everyone knew that. The sewing table was gone now. The room was quiet. The only sounds were those coming from the kitchen as the girls removed the last of Aunt Jenny’s bits and bobs as she called them. They loved their Aunt dearly, actually she had done them an injustice when thinking they would prefer to get their gifts off the internet. All the girls absolutely loved their blankets and toys from Aunt Jenny. They were lovingly and carefully wrapped and put away but would always be cherished by all of them. There were no longer any photographs on the mantelpiece or vases of flowers in every room. Every picture, ornament and photograph had been carefully wrapped and taken to Jenny’s new home. Jenny looked around the empty room remembering all the hopes and dreams from the many years they had been married. How on earth could time pass so quickly, where had it all gone? It had been fine until the final indignities of old age meant she was no longer able to look after herself. Albert hadn’t suffered at all at the end, Jenny thought, and she was glad of that except that there wasn’t a single day went by that she didn’t wish with all her heart that he was still here with her.   Last night Jenny had insisted on being left alone with her thoughts for what was to be the last night in her house with the inside garden. Today the house was almost empty with just the last few things to be taken tomorrow but all Jenny had to do was close her eyes and she could see it all. The pretty plant pots that sat in a line all the way across the kitchen window so Jenny could see them when she washed up. The pictures all the way up the wall as you walked upstairs to the bedrooms and then the pretties of wallpaper with tiny little poppies on the bedroom with, of course, matching pillow cases and bedspread. Jenny smiled remembering the last time Albert woke up sneezing. Do you think you have caught a cold she asked him?  Don’t worry he said laughing I will get some antihistamine later, I think I’ve got hay fever off the pillow cases. Jenny threw a poppy printed cushion at him and they had laughed about it all morning. In quieter moments, it had always pained Albert that the one thing they never quite managed was to move to a bigger house with a garden so if his Jenny wanted her garden inside the house who was he to complain. Jenny always had hope. One day she would say to herself, please God one day could I have a little garden,  just a tiny bit of lawn and a fountain she would whisper, her hands in the prayer position. Today as Jenny sat looking out of the window in her house with the inside garden she felt for the first time she may just cry. There was no point now in hoping any more, it was too late. She knew the girls would still come to see her, of course they would. She was their sweet Aunt Jenny and they loved her, of that she was quite sure. That would have to be enough. She’d had her Albert and a long and happy life. She took one more look at the gardens across the road and swallowed back her tears. Come on old girl she whispered to herself, come on now, as she turned from her window for the very last time. It was time to leave the girls said,  Jenny had waived them aside when they wanted to fuss about taking her along to look at her new home but Jenny wasn’t in the least bit interested. She trusted them, wherever it was it would be fine. If it wasn’t her home with the inside garden then honestly she really wasn’t all that bothered what it was like. Maureen kissed Aunt Jenny on the cheek and gave her a smile. Ready Aunt Jenny? It was only a short journey and Jenny chatted non-stop all the way there. She was nervous if truth be told. They were going in through the gates now and Jenny was afraid to look.  Maybe she wouldn’t like it after all, how ridiculous she should have come along as the girls suggested. Oh my, she thought, then took a deep breath lifted her head and looked at her new home for the first time. It looked nice enough she supposed. The girls were giggling as they settled Aunt Jenny into her wheelchair and it was then she noticed the look on her girls faces. Now then, what was going on,  Jenny knew her girls well. What are you up to my girls, I know you are up to something, I’ve seen that look on your faces on more than one occasion and…………  Wait and see Aunt Jenny said Maureen, Patricia and Lucy who had to turn away from their aunt as tears were threatening to flow. Close your eyes darling the girls said to her, please indulge us. On this beautiful spring day Jenny closed her eyes and felt the warm breeze on her shoulders as she was pushed along the path. The first thing she heard was the creak of a garden gate and it was then that she smelt them, flowers, hundreds of flowers and the sounds of trickling water. Open your eyes Aunt Jenny the girls said, who were now no longer able to stop themselves from crying. Oh she said her hand flying to her mouth to stop herself from shouting out loud, oh my, oh my, she said. All around there were roses, geraniums, gladioli and hundreds of other beautiful flowers that she could see as the girls pushed her around the Rose Garden retirement home.  There was a circular path all the way round the garden with benches to sit on and little tables to enjoy a cup of tea.  There were in fact two fountains, one on each side of the garden and Jenny thought she had never seen anything so beautiful in her whole life.  Jenny could think of nothing to say, she was so taken aback and anyway she was concentrating on keeping her hands from shaking she was so very excited. She was telling the girls what each of the flowers were called, what type of soil they needed and which ones would be blooming next. Janet who had just introduced herself as Jenny’s main carer was impressed, well you certainly know a lot about gardens Jenny, she said. She must miss her own garden, she whispered to the girls. You have no idea they said all laughing together. There was one more surprise for Aunt Jenny they said as they pushed her to a sunny spot in the garden beside the water fountain and they all sat around her. They had received an envelope from the solicitor they explained with a note from Uncle Albert saying ‘Just in Case I get sent packing first’. They had opened it and found the details to the Rose Garden retirement home but had kept it a secret until now. There had also been a little present for Jenny to be kept for such a time as this.  Maureen placed the pretty gift wrapped box on Aunt Jenny’s knee. It’s from Uncle Albert she said.  Jenny’s eyes filled with tears, what on earth could it be. Slowly she undid the ribbon and took the lid of the box and burst out laughing.  It was a pair of gardening gloves, a small trowel and a pack of flower seeds. It was late evening and the sun had gone in but all the lights in the garden had now come on and Jenny thought it was the most incredible and beautiful garden she had even seen in her life and every morning when she looked out of her bedroom window this is what she would see. The gardener had finished digging a little patch of garden that was to be all her own and tomorrow she would plant her seeds and watch them grow. Thank you Albert darling, whispered Jenny, you got me my outside garden after all.