By Dori Knight
Bob waited near the shed, eager to start the spring garden. He was advancing in years, weaker, and less sharp, perhaps, but as loyal a friend as you could ask for, and I loved him.
We shared a passion for gardening, Bob and I, and looked forward to the simply pleasure of digging in the black dirt. It was a bond only a true gardener could understand.
"So, when are you going to retire that old thing?" my husband asked.
I was indignant. "That isnít very nice. Bob has been faithful and loyal all these years. Heís dug me out of more holes than I care to remember."
"Well, maybe thatís because Ďheí is a shovel."
I resented the ease with which he dismissed my old comrade. "Bob is more than a shovel. Bob is my friend."
"Dear Ö itís a shovel. An old, broken down shovel." My husband examined the electrical tape that wound around Bobís handle. "One of these days, youíre going to hurt yourself with this thing. Why donít you just get a new one?"
"I donít want a new one. I want Bob."
"Okay, but donít say I didnít warn you." He turned and walked toward his car, muttering something about asylums for crazy gardeners. I feared he would never understand. My husband, for all his wonderful qualities, knows nothing about the gardening arts.
He couldnít tell the difference between foxglove and lupine, and the subtle nuances of various salvias were completely lost on him. The closest he ever got to gardening was the occasional bouquet of roses he bought for me.
Roses were fine in general, but in terms of gift giving, theyíve always stuck me as clichť; with candy and jewelry following closely as gifts that required no real thought. Given my druthers, I would prefer a bag of cedar mulch, or a flat of verbena.
Bob bit into the soil again, and I shoved him down deeper with my foot, then bent and pulled upward on the heavy load. The aroma of freshly dug dirt was released, and for a single moment, Bob and I were in our element; but when I straightened to turn the soil, everything that was right went horribly wrong: Bob gave way under the strain. With a giant crack, his handle snapped in two, and he lay there in the dirt, broken beyond anything tape could remedy.
I was still grieving the loss of my friend when my husband returned. He had brought chocolates for the children, which made them squeal with delight, but I sat, morose, on the couch.
"Whatís wrong?" my husband asked.
"Bob Ö" was all I could get out.
"Oh honey, Iím so sorry," he said, sincerely. "I bought you something. Maybe it will make you feel better."
I forced a weak smile, and braced myself for an onslaught of roses.
"Donít worry, I didnít buy you flowers."
"Really? I said, perking up a bit. Perhaps he had been listening, after all.
"And no chocolates either."
I was intrigued. No roses or chocolates? Where could this be going?
"And, I didnít get you any jewelry either."
He had my full attention now. "So what is it?" I said, momentarily forgetting my recent loss.
He reached behind the door and pulled out a big stick.
"Oh. Itís Ö a stick. Itís a stick. Well then. Thank you." I said, confused.
"No, itís more than a stick. You see, after I drill a couple of holes in it, and attach the D-handle, sharpen up the old scoop and screw it on here, and youíll have ..."
"Bob!" I cried, and threw my arms around my husbandís neck, shocked and overjoyed.
Bob and I went on to dig many gardens over the years, and each time he sank into the ground, I was reminded of my husbandís thoughtfulness. It is said that love is a many splendor thing, but I donít believe itís as complicated as all that.
Sometimes, love is nursing your husband back to health, or changing your wifeís oil. Love can be glorious and noble, but more often, it is humble and content, and sometimes Ė just sometimes, love is as simple as a shovel named Bob.
Dori Knight is a freelance writer and award-winning humorist. Her humor can be found in local and regional newspapers and magazines, and her syndicated column appears in publications across the country, including The Cross Times, as well as Internet magazines such as InspiredMoms. She is currently involved in the development of an exciting new book project, titled Shades of Hope Ė a collection of light-hearted stories, slated for publication in December, 2005.
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