Today is a sad day for my wife and me. Our long-time gardener Brian is hanging up his boots. He is up for hip surgery in two weeks and has a long period of rehabilitation in the coming weeks. After recovering fully, he is up for ankle surgery and then a knee replacement. And so, Brian retiring at 71 is completely understandable.
At the end of today’s visit, Brian returned the key for the backyard gate. The handing over ritual was a moment of muffled emotions, laced with poignant undercurrents. Over a period of 15 years, Brian bonded with our family. We would seek his counsel regarding maintenance jobs around the house and ask for referrals for tradespeople. Brian used to be a high school PE teacher and many of his ex-students are tradespersons. Whether we needed a plumber or a tiler or a painter, Brian would just look up his phone and give us the contact details of a suitable tradie.
But Brian was more than a gardener or a source of information about other tradies. Often, we would exchange stories about our lives, our children and grandchildren; and politics and religion. We didn’t always agree but we could respectfully agree to disagree. Even though the trajectories of our lives couldn’t be more different, the quintessence of our humanity had a common denominator that transcended the boundaries of stereotyped expectations.
Brian and I never discussed his rates or his hours or the timing of his visits. Since he had free access he would decide when he should come next at a time of his choosing. He would just tell us how much we owed him for work on a particular day or he would leave a note in the mailbox if we were not home. I would follow up by sending him the money by bank transfer. Today’s final bill was $70. I sent $100, with a note that the extra bit was for a bottle of wine to wish him well for his upcoming surgery.
We have lost a gardener. But friendships are forever.
“The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.” – Omar Khayyám
2 August 2021
Mushfiq Rahman is based in Melbourne, Australia. He and his wife Rezina have two adult children and he is the proud grandfather of two curious boys. Having grown up in Bangladesh, Mushfiq has studied, taught, worked, and lived across Canada, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, Oman, and Australia. He has lectured extensively in Electrical Engineering, worked for many years in the telecommunications industry, and previously served as the Honorary Consul for Bangladesh in Melbourne. He is an avid bridge player, loves hiking, and takes a keen interest in global history, politics, and language. Since retiring, Mushfiq has enjoyed being able to write more and share his reflections on life, community, and connections.