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15 April 2011

The Friendship Garden (Part 1)

The friendship garden pic oneby Wendie Busig-Kohn

Creative inspiration can come to you
from love, passion, even GRIEF

I stood there, just staring at the four palm trees I'd planted. A week ago, the grass had been removed. Yesterday I attended a funeral for my best friend, Donny Frank. Only one night before that, I had gone to Palm Springs City Hall to pay tribute to him during Public Comments.

When I arrived, two different people asked me what I was going to present. For years, I'd been standing up at that podium, representing a plethora of local causes and issues. But, that night, it was personal, very personal. When I told these two people that Donny had died, they replied "Was he anyone important?"

I'm sure that my astonished glare needed no words. The Frank family was one of the most important families in Palm Springs development history. Perhaps, they hadn't been around that long to realize that. But, there was more to the story of why I wanted to talk about my friend.

I don't remember everything that I said that night. I do remember breaking down into tears, at the podium, broadcast locally, and I didn't care. You see, it was Donny who got me involved in local politics and issues in the first place! So, I spoke to everyone about how, because of HIM, I had met all of these wonderful people at City Hall, over the years. Without him, I would have not known any of them.

We were the "Four Musketeers", me, Donny, Fred Ebeling and Wendi Florentine - the "gad flies" who often appeared in a conga line, each expressing themselves in their own style. Wendi Florentine had even given us "handles"! Fred, our most senior member, was "Grey Poupon", Donny was "Spice Boy", Wendi was "Pate", and I was "Honey-baked"! (ham?) But, there was much more in common within our little group. Each of us had health issues; serious ones. At the time we all came together, I was the one who was most chronic. In 1995, I was diagnosed with SLE/Systemic Lupus, and told to "get my affairs in order".

We each, took care of one another, always looking in, checking in, every day to see who needed help from the others.

In 2000, only a few days apart, we lost Fred, then Wendi. Donny was with me as I hosted 2 funerals in 2 days. I was so terrified that he would break down then. Fred had been his best friend for many years, and Wendi had been his best friend since High School.

So, there I stood, frozen in my empty garden. Then, it was almost as if I could HEAR them saying... "DUH...Wendie...can't you see?" Those four palm trees represented THE FOUR MUSKETEERS. I could almost feel them around me, embracing me.

It's time to build a friendship garden! So, off to Home Depot I went to choose the first white rose bushes, to plant in memory of them.

More to come...the garden grows and so does this story.

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