Mary Mary Quite Contrary

How Does Your Garden Grow?

For my friend Mary, today when my story you’re told, you might say not so well does your garden grow. I beg to differ and hopefully so will you.

I just left the emergency room after receiving a call from the EMT’s in route with my friend Mary taking her to the emergency room. She is seventy years old and had taken an awful tumble in her tiny little apartment for the disabled.

Mary and I started out together over 45 years ago. We two were both driving the snowplows and skid loaders of your future. Yes, like our grandmothers before us we were plowing the road you skip upon in your high heels controlling the boardrooms of today.

Mary became a computer programmer unheard of in the late sixty’s and early seventy’s of yesterday. I started a business also unheard of for a woman. We were both extremely successful and yet we never lost our way to bring others along, whether male or female.

Pinching pennies, we both began our adventure with life. I remember Mary’s happy face the day she bought her first brand new car paying cash, as we both refused the debt that other baby boomers were taking on. She had a lovely apartment, nice clothes, and friends that loved her so. Genius and talent were her natural gift and who would have known as she never spouted it to those that crossed her path.

One year and two days into her successful new life a drunk driver with no insurance hit her vehicle head on as she drove her brand new car on her way to work. I was there at the hospital day after day watching, waiting, praying while everyone else gave up. The Doctors and Surgeons said she’d never walk again. They said she would be brain dead, they said she’d never live and if she did she’d be a vegetable for the rest of her life.

Nights turned into days and days into weeks and weeks into months. A day came when finally out of the hallo bolted onto her head and off the rotating bed and machines’ keeping her alive, she moved forward for physical therapy. A waste of time everyone said. Abandoned now, by her tag along with friends and fellow co-workers they wheeled her down a long hallway at the hospital to begin her physical therapy.

She was on a rolling gurney as I recall. We passed a woman angry for her lot in life in a wheelchair. “What have you got to smile about”, she shouted at my friend Mary. Mary answered, “Lady this smile is all they say I have left and it is you I am giving it too.” Nurses cried as we moved forward toward the elevator to carry her down two floors to begin her nothingness.

Two years and one day later, she left the hospital upright and walking. It may have been with a walker but nonetheless, she walked and the Doctor’s that had cared for her bent and broken body wiped tears from their eyes and called her a miracle.

All memory of her accident was gone as well as her years in college and her trade. She began to read now alone in her care unit, a tiny little space allotted her. She remembered how to make those famous lemon bars too. She remembered much about getting up and not giving up. I am so glad she is my friend.

I held her again today in another hospital room after taking a fall reaching for her walker. She begged me “don’t let them put me in a nursing home, not yet please not yet.”

She is unable to walk again, but if I know my Mary, the fall will have done her good. She can stand holding tightly to her life support, her freedom, her walker. She just can’t put one foot in front of the other yet. She will though. Those things we take for granted as we move along with our day complaining over one thing or another are miracles for my friend Mary.

If that car driven by a drunken man with no insurance had not plowed head first into hers, there is no doubt in my mind she would have become a Steve Jobs perhaps second in command at Mircosoft.

Think on it and waste no time either. I’ll see her tomorrow and I know what I’ll get, a smile is what I’ll get. Her smile I’m sending you through the weaving of my words. I hope it will inspire you to do as she did all those years ago and give hope, courage, the will to survive, thrive and as we watch this new generation plow the road as we did together all those years ago. This time I’ll use my words, my gift to weave them coupled with her courage and so I say to you,

How does your garden grow?

Pass the Knowledge On!

I drink a toast this eve to my friend Mary and I ponder in my mind who has plowed the path for whom? She takes joy in my success and I take strength in her smile.

So Mary Mary how does your garden grow? It grew to the sky my friend and it took me with you. Thank you, Mary and no there will be no nursing home for you not as long as I have a breath in my body.


Arlene Switzer Flynn
Arlene Switzer Flynn
ARLENE retired from a long and extraordinary career in real estate, both residential and commercial, followed by ownership of her own mortgage broker company. She is a member of Who’s Who for Executives and Professionals in America. She returned to her ‘”forest” with thoughts of retirement, and a new love entered her life – writing. Her first novel “Buzzard’s Glory” hit the market running, and the sequel is hot on its trail. She also writes short stories of humor, old sage advice and inspiration.

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    • Thank you for your comment Larry. Yes we did didn’t we? I have found so often in life it is in the giving that we receive beyond measure.

    • Thank you so much Larry. Yes we did didn’t we? I have found in life often it is in the giving that we receive in abundance.

  1. Arlene, I love stories of triumph, no matter how big or small. Your support and her strength together is empowering. We sometimes forget to stop and be grateful, and no matter our circumstances we can always have the perspective of appreciation for what is…..passing it on to others. Especially those who may need it the most! Thank you for sharing such an inspiring and heartfelt story. I admire your staying by her side and giving her the gift of life where others only saw emptiness.

  2. Chris, thank you for commenting on my column. You are so right, tending a flower garden is much like life. Those devastated the most often are the ones with courage and the willingness to move forward being rewarded with gifts they may not have know existed heretofore. Have a Grand Day!