Friday, August 3, 2012

My Friend Geri

Have you gone through life with few or no real friends but plenty of acquaintances? Then all of sudden that one special friend comes along and makes you very happy. You know the kind, the kind you talk with about anything, the kind that will not judge you, the kind that can sympathize, and even give you an alternative opinion when required? That one friend can change a person's perspective so totally that it is a friendship you will treasure no matter what happens. Well, for me my friend Geri was that person and now the unthinkable has happened; she has moved away.
When I talk of many acquaintances and not so many friends that was not really the whole truth. Throughout my Army career I made a few friends along the way. Friends I even now keep in touch with and friends with whom I have many good memories. Those friends were most special but for me while traveling and working in the Army those friendships were a bit fleeting in that you kind of knew you might not be close friends forever. Being a mobile person moving on was just kind of a fact of life. My friends knew it and so did I. When I retired from the Army I kind of floated. I mean let's face it, most really good friends are made in childhood or made in the workplace or through other social circles. I never really had any of this being a mobile person. Temporary was the name of the game when working in the Army. So it was very special when I retired here to Tennessee for me to make a good friend, that friend being Geri.
Now you all know as do I that good friends don't just drop out of the sky. They don't come knocking on your door (not usually anyhow but sometimes) and sometimes someone who seems a perfect person might not be such a good friend. Friends are like gardens, they are unique to the person. Meeting friends for me was difficult because I was a 'new' person in countryville Tennessee where everyone seems to know everyone else. And if my neighbors don't know everyone else than those 'others' were military or just passing through and not really worth the time of getting to know. Such is the life in my part of my town. It is not that I am not social or anything. I am probably the friendliest person you will meet. I'm always happy to talk to everyone and to share. But to just walk up to a group or get involved is not really my thing. There was and is a saving grace for me though-I am passionate about gardening. The logical thing to do to meet others and to get involved was to garden and to go to garden related events. When Sandy asked me to join her garden club (Beachaven Garden Club) whole circles of friends opened up to me. Oh the possibilities! Friends just kind of complete you and make you happy and help you to feel good. I was so happy to have some friends who all liked to garden too! One day while at a garden related function one of my friends from Beachaven and I were talking. I must say Faye is much more social than I and she struck up a conversation with a nice short lady about my age. That lady was also new in town and was very curious about how to landscape an above ground pool. She just happened to have had one installed and wanted to know how to make it look pretty. She was from Michigan and hated the heat in Tennessee but was willing to put down roots for a while. Her name was Geri and we hit it off.
It wasn't until a few months later that she called me out of the blue and said she had met me at the garden function, and she wondered if I would be interested in visiting her home to help her to figure out her garden. It seems the plants that do well in Michigan don't always do well here. People who are mobile and move from one zone to another have a great deal of difficulty in adjusting to the changes and Geri was a person in a state of 'Help'! She was also a person who did not sit on her laurels. She got involved in gardening functions, even joined the Beachaven Garden club and she got her hands dirty and made over her spot of paradise into a functional garden she and her daughter could enjoy.
After that first visit we became incredibly awesomely good friends. We were so compatible you would not believe it. Where she was quiet and soft spoken I was loud and blunt. Where I was computer savvy she hated computers with a passion (I do hope she visits this post though). Where I spent money she was thrifty. Where she was a Christian I was a bad girl and the list goes on. Through it all she and I connected and always, always felt comfortable together. When she would call me (she certainly didn't do Facebook you know) we could talk for hours about anything and everything. Talking to someone on the phone is something I generally do not like to do so you know our relationship just had to be good for us to talk the way we did. We did for one another selflessly and always, always cared about what the other was doing. Our children are the same age (her daughter is two months older than Jimmy), Geri is one of four girls (like me), Geri is a twin and I have twin daughters, and she shared all my trials and tribulations with me as I did with her. We talked family, school, jobs (we even worked together at Home Depot stocking plants of all things), and we traveled to so many garden functions together that it seems unreal now when I will go to my favorite garden events without her.

About two months ago Geri told me she was putting her house on the market and moving back to Michigan. I was and still am heartbroken. Even now I tear up thinking about her being gone and I am not normally an emotional person but I miss her. We have grown quite close over the last six years and she was my first real friend outside of the military life. We will still talk and we will still be friends and I suspect I'll go and visit her in her new home in Michigan one day but for now I am sad she is gone. Most of the problem aside from the fact that we were such good friends is the fact I did not think my friends would move away once I retired and settled down. Sometimes we just take things for granted and the thought of any of my friends moving away just kind of never occurred to me. The fact she did move away makes a sad time in my life going back to my time in the military and throughout my life when I would move and be transient. I am happy for her and her daughter and wish them the best in Michigan and I will be okay.

I went over and helped Geri and Clare load up their POD prior to closing. This is when I took all of the above pictures of her home. The stone pathway you see by the pool is stone Geri traveled all the way to Russellville to purchase. She hand loaded those stones in the back of her Pontiac multi purpose vehicle, and hauled them back to her house where she meticulously laid each stone. It took her years but she was ever so proud of the finally completed patio and path. The arbor in the corner is set on bowling ball stones. She and I made countless trips to Hopkinsville to purchase these stones for .10 each. They too were loaded into our cars and transported home. We shared plants, we shared crafts, we shared a passion for gardening and we two are very strong do it yourselfers. She grew her wild garden from nothing by using unique things in unique ways. She reveled in all the wildlife that visited her garden but would absolutely refuse to feed the birds or hummingbirds, and don't even think about a birdbath feature. She said the animals can fend for themselves. She shared her wonderful cherries with me and the wildlife. One day I was coming home from a client's house and was in a hurry. I had said I would stop by but was running late and forgot all about stopping. She called me at the opportune time just prior to me passing her house and asked if I was still coming over. She said she had picked me a huge bowl of cherries-in the heat and mosquitoes she did this for me. She was one of a kind (just looking at her bottle tree will tell you what kind of unique person she is and was-the bottle tree was left behind for the new owner and he hasn't changed a thing) and I had so much happiness being her friend....

in the garden....

Here are more posts I have done that involve Geri. It seems when I look back she has been a part of many milestones in my life while here in Tennessee. Geri fostered dogs, helped me with my animals, but to tell you the truth she did not really like animals. There is so much more I can say but will leave it as is for now.

Garden Art from Bowling balls-a very popular post.
Tennessee Bloggers-Geri traveled to Nashville with me to meet other Tennessee bloggers a few years ago.
Nashville Lawn and Garden Show-each year since Geri and I met we always went to this show together. One year there was a tornado warning and our kids were sent home from school early. Yikes!
Perennial Plant Society-Geri and I alternated driving to Nashville each month to attend the PPSMT's great programs each month.
Irises from the Iris Society sale in Nashville-on the cheap.
Pine needles-we raked pine needles on Fort Campbell. I thought she was raking them for her garden but she gave all the ones she raked to me!
Garden tour-she helped out at my house.

There are at least 30+ posts where I have mentioned Geri. Some of the memories I had forgotten until I was preparing this post. It is so nice to have history with friends. History I can look back on as well as remember thanks to this blog. Thanks for coming along while I tearfully say goodbye to my beautiful and wonderful friend....


in the garden....

Words and Photos Property of In the Garden Blog Team, In the Garden


  1. Good friends are indeed hard to come by and I am sorry for you both that she is moving away.

  2. This is really a beautiful post BY a beautiful person ABOUT a beautiful person! I can imagine the empty spot in your heart. I hope someone 1/2 as lovely as Geri moves into her house...

    Is that YOUR bottle tree in the top picture, or Geri's? I love all the color on it!

  3. Nice post and tribute to your dear friend. I have tears in my eyes while reading this post. It is a tearjerker. Sorry your friend moved but you will always have the memories.

  4. Good Morning Tina:
    Once again Mom said to tell you she enjoyed yur pictures and story! She loved the bottle don't see many of them up here in iowa. Mom said your story brought back memories of their days in the military also, she was the wife he was the soldier...they traveled all over, and had their three girls all over and made so many good friends...but after awhile it got so hard for mom to always say goodbye that she stopped saying it, and when it was time to leave, she just hindsight that may not have always been a good thing, cos of this word called closure..but that is how she handled it. Now she has settled down in a whole new life, and finding friends is hard. At first she didn't miss that but as she is getting older she misses a good laugh with a good friend. I think us three puggies have turned into her friends, cos we love her no matter what! You were so lucky to have Geri...she was a blessing to you.
    Just Me
    stella rose

  5. What a wonderful tribute to Geri. :0)Hmmm, never figured you for the bad girl type. My best friend moved far away but our friendship has endured with no problem.

  6. What a touching Post Tina. We too know that feeling of loosing friends along the way with our travels. Blogging has us with new friends but all long distant, as you know. I long for the day that I can move back to TN as I have some wonderful people that I consider friends through blogging as you girl. I want to be more active in your life but distance is between us. I cherish our short periods of time together. Spring Fling was so special as I was able to spend some wonderful quality time with you! When in TN, I am so strapped for time with everyone and feel so sad when I must take off to the next event. I feel as though I never have enough time to be with the ones i cherish.... Sigh, okay this comment has turned into my own little pity party but I cannot help those feelings as this posting brings them out today. So many we have met along the ways of military travels and so many goodbyes but I would not change a thing as I learned so much from everyone along the way.... Such is life and we move on but the emptiness lingers on with that one special someone such as your Geri....

    You, the Bad One, ha.. that is funny...

  7. She is a lovely person, and so are you Tina. I wish we could be neighbors. And I can't imagine you being bad. You're much too sweet and thoughtful and funny.

    I wish we could have stopped to visit you on the way home from Illinois, but Daughter and I both needed to get back for work. I hope that next time I'm not in such a hurry. Remember, you're welcome to visit here anytime.

  8. Real, close, true friends are very special. Moving as an Army brat and as an Army wife life long friends were few and far between. Sorry your wonderful friend has moved away. Know there will be a hole in your heart.

  9. Ahh, as gardeners, we fill in a lot of holes but that unique empty spot in the heart that the departure of a dear friend leaves...well, not even the most prodigious shoveling efforts fills in that one. However, with all the immediacy of today's communication technology, you two will find a rhythm that works and keeps your special connection alive. I appreciated the heartfelt sharing of this post.

  10. So awesome that you two found each other and have all those great memories. More will come. It is hard when someone you're close to leaves. Maybe she'll get more computer savvy to check in on your garden. Thanks for sharing the photos and your friendship story!

  11. Ok, will try again. I know true friends are hard to find. I've only had 1 & she looks me up every time she comes thru. I do miss the old days but time moves on. I'm sad for you that you have lost [to some degree] that special bond. Hopefully you 2 can see each other.

  12. Ok, will try again. I know true friends are hard to find. I've only had 1 & she looks me up every time she comes thru. I do miss the old days but time moves on. I'm sad for you that you have lost [to some degree] that special bond. Hopefully you 2 can see each other.

  13. I'm like you, know lots of people some better than other but a real friend no. There have been friends at different times of my life but no one who I have really really connected with. I think it is hard to make friends when you move to a new area and like you say you have to make an effort. I go to many garden related events and meet lots of nice people but still the best friend remains elusive.

    I do believe that as you and Geri are such good friends that you will stay in touch. You can still chat on the phone and I am sure there will be many trips back and forth, why not go on holiday together.

    I do hope you feel happier soon


  14. Tina, I am sorry to hear about Geri leaving town, really very sorry. I loved reading your friendship journey. Thank you for sharing. xogail

  15. What a beautifu, beautiful post about friendship. I also get the same feeling when you post photos about your garden. You're a great friend to the flowers and plants in your green space.

    Many thanks.

    Greetings from London.

  16. Oh Tina you made me cry as I thought of my best dear friend Sandy who moved away. Tina we are so similar as I am not as social and my family moved a couple times. I had a hard time making friends. But Sandy was that special friend who felt like we have known each other always. I helped her pack and drove her across country. My heart broke to leave her. We see each other every few years as she is clear across the country but I hope to spend more time with her as I retire. Know that you and she are forever linked.

  17. So sorry that your friend has moved away. It really is hard to make a close friend. You have made some wonderful memories. I hope you will get to see each other more often than you think you will.

  18. What a wonderful tribute to your friend, Tina! I know that you will miss Geri, but I hope you can still stay in contact and visit each other, though I know it's not the same. My friend Beckie, who you met at the Asheville Fling, and I have been best friends since the 5th grade, and I can't imagine what I'd do if she moved far away from here. We've shared so many ups and downs in our lives, and only in the last few years have we both really gotten into gardening, which has added even another dimension to our friendship. I hope that you and Geri can continue your friendship across the miles.