When I started this blog, the first piece of advice I received was to find other blogs that I admired, blogs that I thought would appeal to the readers I hoped to attract. After scrolling through blog after blog, I found one that stood out from the rest.
It was classic and classy, well-written, witty, and wise.
It was Lee May’s Gardening Life.
I left a comment immediately and added the site to my newly learned term: a blogroll. For some time, Lee May’s Gardening Life was the only blog listed on that roll.
It had been a long time since I had written. Prior to blogging and prior to my life as a school social worker, I had been a journalist — but that was a long ago chapter in my life. So when Lee — a much-respected journalist — replied that he liked my writing, he provided water to my young sprouting blog and to my soul.
I never met Lee. I simply knew him as a wonderful writer and a generous gardener. Each comment that he left on this site was a jewel of inspiration. Here is one he left from The Writes of Autumn:
Ah, autumn. I understand your response to the season considered the killer of time outdoors. Try to see it another way, Kevin (that is, try to see it my way): It’s the flip side of spring, with colors not round and soft like spring’s but hard-edged and sharp-angled – like the autumn light.
I think of fall as bracing, like the nights that increasingly chill, making that warm bed even more welcome, comforting.
Through his own blog, I learned of Lee’s love of mosses, struggles with some plants, joys with others, and of his non-blogging life — his wife and family, his memories and future garden plans, his philosophy and humor, and, most recently, his health issues.
Lee was diagnosed with cancer in mid-September — and as recently as November 1, in the midst of chemo and hospice, he was posting on his blog:
Dancing On The Ceiling
One morning between my first and second chemo treatments, I noticed that my view of the world had shrunk mightily. My broad chunk of doings from out there had narrowed to a few spots; each morning was filled with a sameness as I scanned walls, amazed that my view had withered so profoundly.
Until I happened to look up and see shadows dancing on the ceiling, filled with light I had not expected. I could almost touch it.
This is the beauty of Lee’s writing, of his sensitivity, of his ability to wrap a reader in a warm, comforting blanket of words. I, for one, am thankful that I had the chance to not only be inspired by his words, but also by his humanness. His beautiful humanness.
My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Lyn, and his family.
26 thoughts on “A Gardening Life Remembered”
Kevin, the friendships we make through the written word – either over the internet or snail mail – can be life altering in their beauty and intimacy. I am truly sorry for the loss of your friend, Lee. Thank you for giving me a glimpse of the man and his work. His words still have the power to move. I wish Lee Godspeed and I will keep his family in my prayers.
I also wish you and ours the blessings of the season.
Hi Linda. I truly feel blessed that my path crossed with Lee’s — no matter the means. Have a wonderful holiday — and thank you for your words.
He truly was a class act and will be missed very much.
Hi Karen. Yes he was — a true gentle man.
It is horrible for the ones he left behind especially in this season of festivities but he is in a good place now, no more pain, no more sorrows and he is looking at his family and friends, I see people who died like people we can’t hear or speak to for the time being but when we go to the other side they’ll be waiting for you……so I am sure that one day you’ll be able to meet him ! Death is really not the end, it is the beginning of a hole new adventure and it is better than being born !
Hi Gwennie. Thank you for your words — I’m sure that Lee is tending a magnificent garden, making it even more spectacular for the rest of us.
the gardens on the “other” side are FA BU LOUS !!!! so I am told by the people who were there when hey died and were brought back by a machine (near death experiences)
🙂 Comforting to know, Gwennie.
yes, it is, isn’t it !!!! (you must think I’m a nutter !!:D)
Not at all. 🙂
This is a beautiful post … I wish I could walk in Lee’s garden!
Hi Bren. Thank you. I’m so glad Lee shared his gardens with the rest of us. We are all the better for it.
Although you never met this gentleman, Kevin, it’s obvious that his writing left a profound mark on your life. My sympathy to you and to Mr. May’s family. May all be comforted by wonderful memories of a life well-lived and a man well-loved. Peace.
Hi Aunt Pat. It’s amazing the connections that can be made through social media — it’s like living in one giant small town. And Lee’s presence will certainly be missed.
Kevin, Lee’s blog was one of the first I latched onto myself. His words always left me feeling inspired to be a better writer and persistent gardener. I found his East coast gardens to be fanciful with a true “from the heart” quality. I remember the move and new garden project and wondered how he would ever transform the new property into something of his own. And slowly but surely, one plant at a time, he did it. I love that he never stopped gardening and writing. He will be missed for sure.
Hi Mario. I had a feeling he would be your kind of gardener/blogger. Lee was definitely a class act, as you are my friend. Be well.
Thank you so much for sharing Lee’s story.
Hi Teresa. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. He was truly a gentleman and a gentle man.
This is a beautiful and heartfelt post Kevin. Lee May obviously lived his life by touching people’s hearts with his words and he definitely had an impact on you. You have written a beautiful tribute to him here and what you gained from him will be in your heart forever.
Thank you, Lee.
Very beautiful words in your post.
Thank you, Cathy.
What a nice homage to this fine man.
Thank you, Diane.
Hi Kevin. I count myself truly blessed to call Lyn & Lee close friends/twin souls of mine. I am producing a memorial video tribute for our celebration of his life in March and in addition to the archive of photos and materials that Lyn has, I am also scouring the internet for his presence. I came across your blog and am so moved that you seem to totally comprehend what an extraordinary, talented, urbane, erudite man Lee was. I would always tell him and Lyn that their marriage (as I have known them sine I was 19) is the reason I have not married yet…I would always say, “I am waiting for MY Lee May!” Thank you for paying homage to Our Lee May! Best.
Dear Chaundra. Thank you so much for your comment and your kind words. There are many of us out there who enjoyed Lee’s writing and his comments. He was a special man — and I will always credit him for giving me that early push into blogging. My best to you and his family. be well.