Flower Power

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Barb Beacham’s hollyhocks growing in my garden on Vancouver Island.

I was lucky enough to become a friend of fellow blogger, Barbara Beacham, of California. Her blog, Life in the Foothills, was always interesting to visit. She wrote amazing flash fiction, took photographs of things that most people would miss, kept an incredible garden, and loved animals.

She battled cancer with such a positive attitude that when she died suddenly on November 22, 2015, I was shocked. She had me convinced she would beat it. She was a kind and lovely person and I wish I could have met her in person.

It would make sense to do a post for her on the anniversary of her leaving us, but the truth is, I’ve thought of her nearly every day for about two years. If you visit her blog at this link, you’ll see how this came about.

https://salmonfishingqueen.wordpress.com/2014/06/23/hollyhocks/

She loved her garden, especially the hollyhocks. In the comments, I asked her if she saved the seeds. From that comment on, we began emailing and we traded seeds. She sent me hollyhock seeds and I sent her poppy seeds (which unfortunately didn’t sprout for her). I planted her hollyhock seeds and babied them in my poor soil. They grew, but being biennials, they didn’t bloom that first year. Then the trick was to make sure the plants survived the winter. I piled leaves over them for protection against the cold, and hoped they’d continue to grow in the spring.

But then came a post on her blog that was written on her behalf, by her husband. I cried my eyes out when I read that Barb had died. I didn’t see how that was possible when she was so sure she would win that fight. All I had left of her, besides her blog to visit, were the sprouted hollyhocks in my garden.

I watched those plants and babied them to make sure they survived. When the captain built a new fence around my garden and put raised beds in this spring, I was constantly saying to him, “Careful of those hollyhocks,” and “Watch out for Barb’s flowers.”

I got so nervous about losing them that I moved them to a separate flower bed away from the construction. I thought of her as the plants grew, as the buds formed, and as they opened up to flower. They are a bit feeble compared to those in her own garden, but next year they’ll do better. Meanwhile, I’ve thought of her more than I could have imagined, and I still miss her so much.

But her memory lives on in my garden.

30 thoughts on “Flower Power

  1. It doesn’t matter whether we’ve met in ‘real life’ or not. The pain from losing a friend is just as raw. And this is just as real anyway. This was beautifully written, your friend would have loved it, and may your Hollyhocks thrive.

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  2. This really moved me, Anneli. To meet someone online and never have met them in person, then lose them and miss them. Yet, she lives on in your hollyhocks. Her spirit is with you there, and I’m not surprised that you think of her so often. Thanks for sharing about your exchanges with Barb.

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    • She had written some bits of an autobiography that I was helping her edit. It gave me a real insight into what a gutsy lady she was even as a child. Too bad she had to stop working on the chapters when she got too sick. It would have made a great book. We had a good friendship going. I was really choked that she died and left such an empty spot in my heart. The world could have used a lot more women like her.

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  3. I lost a dear blog friend, too, under terrible circumstances. She simply disappeared, and no one could find her. She’d been deeply involved in WordPress as a forum volunteer — but even those folks didn’t know where she’d gone. Eventually, we found her. The story’s too complex for here, but she had died in a homeless shelter.

    The point I was coming to, though, is that she maintained a food blog. After it was settled that she never would be coming back, I went in and copied most of her recipes and pages. Just this week I looked up her method for making iced coffee, and wished again she was here to help me with my writing. Like your friend’s hollyhocks, the coffee at my elbow is a link to her — and it still pains me to think of her being so alone at the end.

    These relationships we form online are real, there’s no question about that. Right now, social media can be a nasty place, but there are other, wonderful places on the web where deep human connections are formed. Thanks for sharing yours with Barb.

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    • That’s so true, Linda, about the bonds we make with people. I think some of us (bloggers) have more conversation with each other than many friends who see each other face to face once in a while. What a sad story about your blogging friend. I can relate to the coffee as a connection. Yes, we are real people out there in Blogville, and I love being able to reach out.

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  4. That was a heart warming and beautiful post, Anneli. The hollyhocks are gorgeous and I hope they continue to flourish in your garden as much as her memory does in your heart.. Sounds like you were privileged to have known Barbara as well as you did. Thanks for sharing this wonderful tribute and beautiful photos.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Her memory lives on in your daily thoughts of her, Anneli. ❤ Barb's friendship meant a lot. These flowers seem to be getting stronger and are very pretty reminders of how blogging can bring people together over miles and time. Sorry of your loss of Barb.

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