In 1974 I became acquainted with an older man named Gary, a Vietnam vet who had immersed himself in the drug culture. Gary could often be found in front of his house tending to his marigolds which grew in profusion on either side of the walkway, skirting the purple hand rails he had carefully painted.The seeds packets were giveaways in bags of Fritos and Gary had procured several bags of the corn chips in order to have enough seed to cover the long walkway.
Once, when my aunt and I were driving to work, she spied Gary bent over weeding his golden treasures. His hair cascaded over his face hiding his masculine features. That, coupled with my aunt's poor eyesight caused her to exclaim "she really has a beautiful crop of marigolds!"I didn't say anything because I didn't want her to know that "she" and I had known each other for several months.
After all these years whenever I see marigolds, I think of Gary and wonder whatever happened to him. I wonder what happened to a lot of people, but it seems they always leave a piece of themselves behind, tucked somewhere in my memory, ready to come to life again at a moment's notice. The marigold blossoms that Gary so carefully nurtured return every time I plant them or spy them in another person's garden or planter.
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