I first saw the old lady at the end of a fine summer’s day. I’d awoken from a snooze just as the sun was setting, it’s last light sending beams of gold through the trees at the end of the garden.
She was standing on the path humming some unintelligible tune and hunched over as if time was weighing heavy on her shoulders. Her face was hidden as she looked at the beds of plants to either side, interrupting her song with the occasional tut or hmmm.
I should have been scared but for some reason she seemed to fit in the garden, as if she and it were one and the same.
I’d raised a tentative, ‘Hello?’
She’d responded with a kindly wave and a ‘Don’t mind me, Dear, you enjoy your rest.’
By then, she’d reached my deckchair. Bemused, I’d asked, ‘Are you lost?’
A laugh brimming with warmth, she’d replied, ‘No, I’m not lost, gardening is my hobby.’ She’d reached out then, patted my arm with her own wrinkled hand. Except, instead of the dry touch of her skin, her hand passed straight through. It’s passage had felt like someone had blown a kiss there. ‘You settle back,’ she’d said.
I should have freaked out, but I did as she asked. There was no fear, just a deep tranquility.
I’ve seen her many times since then within my garden. Sometimes in the morning, sometimes the evening. Always serenely humming that same tune that I cannot place. Forever with a kind word, that pat of reassurance which feels like a blown kiss.
It’s strange, I’ve always dreamed of taking a rest in a garden like this. Away from the worries of the world, just sitting back in the dappled sun, listening to the birds.
It’s better than heaven.