Of Love and Loss in a Nursing Home Garden

by Patrick Muir on October 19, 2013

 IV. Thou Shall Not Steal

Maybe it was nurtured by the Sisters of St. Joseph, but I totally abhor stealing of any kind. But I wonder what Sister Ethelreda, particularly, would have thought about the hapless souls who choose to steal items from a nursing home garden nurtured for the enjoyment of its residents? Thank good dear Sister Ethelreda, far above by now, didn’t have to hear of five things I have had stolen of late. Below you can see the patron saint of ugly names herself, Saint Ethelreda. Can you imagine how many swats of the cane Sister Ethelreda would have doled out for that? Poor girl would have had to take some breaks before she was through with the task. I’m sure she would think the punishment was more than deserved and, of course, a directive from the Almighty above. While humor can be a thankful mask of mine, I’m completely distraught at this recent course of events.

Before I had to enter Trinity Nursing & Rehab five years ago, I collected vintage watering cans and they were a great remembrance of my dear grandparents. I stored mine at Mum’s house and moved three of them over here last summer to the courtyard garden outside the main dining room. I’m not stupid and after I had an empty 24″ Kinsman hanging basket stolen from the front patio, I had a custom-designed stand built for a replacement and secured the basket to the stand and another lock and chain to a metal post under the front canopy. I think dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter, Sister Ethelreda would be impressed by my due diligence (doesn’t that word diligence sound like a word of beauty to a dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter nun?)

Well I must admit, I didn’t think for a minute about chaining down some old rusty watering cans BUT, maybe we can blame it on hard times since the Great Recession, some lapsed soul (showing much restraint to use less kind monikers in honor of dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter Sister Etheldreda) chose to steal the cans. Two are very replaceable but the third was a huge five gallon with a gorgeous, chunky, weathered handle. I hope that SOB (Sorry, Sister Etheldreda but it was so beautiful I’m sure the Almighty understands my passion on this one?)) is particularly enjoying that one. I’m sure I will never find another with such gravitas again but am determined not to succumb to these indignities by surrendering. Will eventually replace and at this time thinking of bearing a rebar rod in the ground with a hole drilled through the side to attach a similar lock and chain as noted above. But on my $64 a month stipend from Medicaid, they’ll be a long time coming, my friends.

But dear friends, I’m sorry to report two other indignities in this same vein. (Can you imagine how the veins in the temples of dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter Sister Etheldreda would be pulsating had the old b*t still been gracing (stretching here, of course) the earth?) Karen Summers was my account coordinator at two of my ad agencies for a combined stint of five years. Now to some of the creative (learned on the job that’s a loose term, of course) department, Karen might be described as a kindred soul to Sister Etheldreda but she always had my back and was hands down the best assistant I ever had. She made me the best account manager ever. That’s how a visiting former client told one of my nurses, just this week – it was a good week until, read on.

Anyway Karen has no kids and spoiled me like one of her own with well chosen gifts I did not deserve. (Sit down on that one, Sister Eltheldreda) So the most precious theft of all was a large copper can that had begun to oxidize nicely. I didn’t realize these were stolen since I haven’t been out of bed for a year and just asked last week to bring it inside to put on the back of the toilet, which seemed so totally appropriate to me. Then I got the sorry news all four were gone. No need to damn the individual responsible because we all can bet they are already eternally damned unless they have a major change in their ethos (Another word favored my Sister Etheldreda, to be sure). This can is irreplaceable on my poultry Medicaid stipend and I wouldn’t dare tell Karen of this course of event, of course.

So the last indignity (that I KNOW of, that is) was the theft of another gift. One of the former residents who sunned herself on that courtyard was a rather large woman (OK, very large if truth be told to Sister Ethelreda) who left us with a gorgeous glazed strawberry jar on a glazed pedestal to boot, which I had never seen before. Ladened with hens-n-chicks, it was a sight to see. WAS being the operative word. Some SOB, probably the same availed   themselves of it. I only discovered it during these latest teachable moment. If I ever find other will drill holes through the stand/base and attach to the railing.
Being the forgiving soul I try to be, except for the incendiary name calling which must be deemed a weakness to be sure (Right, Sister Etheldreda?),  I hope my loss is enriching somebody’s life. Preferably not the perpetrator, of course.
So my friends, treasure your garden ornaments while we all learn a valuable lesson from my travails: we all got to shed our belongings some day. But for most of us, our cup will spill over in heavenly rewards. But if you believe and do good works, you know who you are, I hope?
What is it about num memories that bring out the cheekiness in even the most upstanding Catholics? (Are there any other types of Catholics — not asking your opinion on that one up there my dear old, departed, cranky, short-tempted and mind you bitter Sister Etheldreda?)
Patrick's Garden

{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Jennifer@threedogsinagarden October 19, 2013 at 5:54 pm

What a terrible shame! What kind of a person does such a thing? Not a good person for sure! I am so very saddened by your post and hope that threw some miracle the stolen items resurface.


Patrick October 20, 2013 at 9:18 am

That’s for your condolences, Jennifer. Though I’d prefer the Almighty save his miracles for something more important.


Alain October 20, 2013 at 6:20 am

I can relate to your loss as I have a collection of old-fashioned watering cans I have accumulated over the years. I also had nuns as teachers, although no Sister Etheldreda – even if we also dreaded ours, especially Mary of the Crucifix who was a terror!
I also enjoyed you post on reblooming irises. I will look for some of the ones you recommend.


Patrick October 20, 2013 at 9:15 am

Have you ever done a post about your watering cans? Would love to see it. Mary of the Crucifix sounds like she should have a prickly side with a name like that.


Dee/reddirtramblings October 20, 2013 at 7:15 am

Dammit! That’s awful. I would watch on eBay for those. I really would. People know those vintage cans are worth a pretty penny. I’m so sorry Patrick. That makes my blood boil. BTW, I’m Catholic, and I’ve never heard of this particular saint. She probably is pretty angry though even if she is in heaven viewing the beatific vision. Hope your days go better this week.~~Dee


Patrick October 20, 2013 at 9:11 am

Bloody awful, my fiery friend. Don’t think I want to be on the losing end when your blood begins to boil. Is it acerbated by your red hair and probable Irish blood?


Jason October 20, 2013 at 8:59 am

I’m so sorry that happened. It’s terrible that people can have such a failure of imagination and empathy that they cannot think of what the loss of those beautiful objects would mean to the person they were robbing. Such acts degrade the humanity of the offenders, but not the offended.


Patrick October 20, 2013 at 9:05 am

Beautifully said, my friend. Don’t think I can add anything of value to that except you could have lit a candle at the cathedral for this pathetic louse.


New Hampshire Gardener October 20, 2013 at 4:19 pm

I doubt very much that a thief thinks about what the theft will do to the person they are stealing from. I imagine that it is more I, Me, Mine that they are thinking about. But they’ll get theirs, that I’m sure of. I’m sorry that it happened to you though, who most likely can’t do much about it.


Patrick October 23, 2013 at 9:06 am

Maybe a gardening angel will adopt one for me.


snowbird October 21, 2013 at 1:02 pm

I see I shall have to come around to your place with my whip!!! What an outrage, leaves me speechless. At least your description of the dour nun had me laughing.xxxx


Patrick October 23, 2013 at 9:04 am

Laughing through the pain, SB.


Donna October 23, 2013 at 4:31 pm

That is just despicable. Someone should contact the local TV station to do a human interest story on it. My gosh, from a Trinity Nursing Home no less. Not Catholic but close…Trinity Lutheran.


Patrick October 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm

Saddest thing about what you say is it wouldn’t make the news. Some people have allowed their ethos to be compromised or destroyed. Can’t live your life worrying about them. Can get smarter to avoid them.


Cathy Walters Miclat November 3, 2013 at 4:51 am

I’m so sorry Patrick. This has rendered me speechless. I hope those who did this seek forgiveness one day…and redemption.


Patrick December 13, 2013 at 9:00 am

My chaplain calls it the depravity of some people’s soul and I think the term is very appropriate to explain how this can happen.


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