There was no warning.
There was no chance for goodbye.
It broke my heart in many places.
But her contribution to my life, home and garden was immeasurable and I cannot thank her enough.
My assistant Yvette (Yvee) was spunky, sweet, obstinate, lovable, and very patient with me.
While she was very poor with a shovel and terrible at planting, her skills with stick and rock relocation and lawn fertilization were excellent.
She was good company too.
A constant presence in my heart and mind, even when she was with her other father.
In her garden, she was often like a flower soaking up the summer sun, just sitting and enjoying being outside.
When I would sit on the ground in front of flowerbeds to pick up leaves or pull weeds, she would eventually saunter over and climb into my lap to snuggle. No amount of daddy telling her he was busy was going to get her to budge. But the reminder to take off the gloves and "just be" was important.
While I fussed in the garden, she could often be seen wallowing in her "holler", carelessly napping under the shade of the English walnut tree.
We would sometimes sit together on the front concrete stoop bundled in blankets to watch the sun set between the Arborvitae. Something I promise to do more of now.
In spring, I took her annual picture in front of the white Candytuft, almost like her First Day of School picture. It captured the passing of time and seasons. Each year, we both got a little more gray in the face.
In the fall, we would sit by the back door, looking out over the garden, the smell of the Osmanthus fragrans dancing in our noses, the leaves would soon be falling.
We spent many weekend nights sleeping in Shedteau Yvette, a garden cabin I had built for both of us. After a long day of gardening, we would head to the cabin and fall asleep together watching a movie. Sometimes I would leave the door open to enjoy the evening air and she would lay in her bed and peer into the dark.
We often played a game in the morning, Yvee would avoid going to work with me by finding a spot on the sidewalk or by the back patio and sit defiantly, daring me to chase after her to get her in the car. She wanted to stay home in the garden. I did too.
She was happy to attend all my open gardens, casually greeting early visitors. If you arrived later, she may have been a little indifferent and only given a cursory hello to get a "pet pet" before wandering off to nap.
Yvee was well known at several nurseries, often traveling around in her blue wagon or happily sitting in a chair in the shade. As long as she could see me she didn't care how long I looked at plants.
She was not much for perusing plants though, especially in the heat, preferring to stay in the shade and hopefully getting some attention from passersby.
A favorite memory is Alan, Yvee and I going to the plant sale at Sebright and the wonderful ladies of Secret Garden Growers offered to watch her and gave Yvee tastes of their strawberry shortcake and whipped cream. Yvee had them eating out of the palm of her paws.
Yvee was loved by so many.
Thank you Yvee for being my assistant all these years.
I will always love you.