A Witness to My Life

This morning, I cleared away the patch of seven-foot-tall weeds that had been growing unchecked behind a construction rubbish pile in my yard. Having them gone — both the weeds and the rubbish — makes me feel so much better! With the weeds growing like that, it made me feel slovenly, which isn’t at all how I like to think of myself.

I was going to pack it in when the work was finished, because I really did overdo it in my zeal to finish the task, but then clouds came and obscured the sun, and it felt cool enough to do a job I’ve been putting off.

I never considered bindweed a weed — it looks like small morning glories, and is pretty when it covers a field, or even when it entwines itself around the links of a chain-link fence. The problem with the fence is when the season is over, the plant dies back but leaves the vines wrapped around the links. I worked a bit on clearing off the fence the past couple of days, but so much of the weed was still left to clear off, that today, in the coolness, I got out a chair, sat down, and picked and picked and picked all that weed off the fence.

It looked so nice after it was finished, I hoped someone would notice and tell me that they noticed. I felt silly thinking that — I’m not a child, calling to her mother to witness some derring-do, “Lookame, Mommy. Lookame.” And yet . . . it is nice to have our feats noticed, even if they are as trivial as a clean fence. To be honest, I think it’s more than just nice. I think it’s a fundamental need.

In the movie Shall We Dance, Beverly Clark (Susan Sarandon) says: “We need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet . . . I mean, what does any one life really mean? But in a marriage, you’re promising to care about everything. The good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things . . . all of it, all of the time, every day. You’re saying ‘Your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it. Your life will not go un-witnessed because I will be your witness.’”

Jeff, of course, had been the witness to my life. He gave it meaning by that witnessing. After he died, I used this blog as my witness, writing about grief and all that I went through because of his absence. This witnessing of my grief gave it importance — because of what I wrote, I connected with people in a similar situation, and we helped each other get through each new phase of grief.

I am still using this blog as a witness to my life, telling about all the large and small things that make up my life, but even if I didn’t have this blog, I’d still have a witness: me. I witness my own life. I see what I do. I see the end result of my labor and, in this case, I appreciate the cleared fence.

Incidentally, the lack of tall weeds — or any weeds — by the gray slag and along the other side of the fence is due to my labors at the beginning of the week where I dug up all the waist-high and shoulder-high weeds.


Pat Bertram is the author of Grief: The Inside Story – A Guide to Surviving the Loss of a Loved One. “Grief: The Inside Story is perfect and that is not hyperbole! It is exactly what folk who are grieving need to read.” –Leesa Healy, RN, GDAS GDAT, Emotional/Mental Health Therapist & Educator

At War With Weeds

The weeds are definitely winning the war in my yard. For every one that I manage to eradicate, another three take its place. I don’t want to go the poison route — with more weeds than anything else here on this property, the amount of weedkiller necessary to do the job would probably be strong enough to kill me, too.

So, it’s one weed at a time, though I have been mowing some of them just to clear a space for me to walk.

Oddly, some of those that seemed the most innocuous have turned out the be the most frightening. Since I can’t dig up all of them, I’ve started with those that have seed pods similar to dandelions, because once those take hold, you never get rid of them. I’ve pretty much been ignoring a weed that seemed to have a shallow root system, with skinny “arms” and sparse leaves, that lays flat on the ground. I thought that with all the wind around here, it might not be a bad idea to leave those weeds be so that they could hold the soil in place.

Bad idea! Today when I was out weeding one of my garden patches, I went ahead and pulled up some of those weeds, which turned out to be a monumental task. Each one of those “arm” had grown to about two feet, and at each intersection where a leaf grew, the plant grew a root. Even worse, in some cases, it tied down plants that were in its way. I’d never seen anything like that. I thought bindweed was bad. Bindweed looks like miniature white morning glories, and if they are in a field, they lie flat and look pretty. If they are in a garden, they grow monstrously long and strangle any plant they can climb. Unless I want to resort to poison, the bindweed will always win, but I can sort of keep on top of it. Goat’s head is another plant that is prevalent around here, but I know what it is, and can — mostly — keep on top of that one, too. But this long, skinny plant that ties itself to the ground and to anything in its path is something else again.

I have no idea what the plant is called — I spent the past hour searching online for information about it without any luck — but I do know I have to be more vigilant about pulling it up. If not, I’ll wake up one day and find my whole house wrapped up in the tendrils of that weed.


The thought is enough to give me nightmares.


What if God decided S/He didn’t like how the world turned out, and turned it over to a development company from the planet Xerxes for re-creation? Would you survive? Could you survive?

A fun book for not-so-fun times.

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