My friend Tom Masic died a few weeks ago just six months shy of his 82nd birthday. Today his long-time partner, Joe, hosted a celebration of his life in their spectacular garden, minutes from my home. Tom, who retired from the Oregon Military Department some thirty years ago, has been very active in community service. He only recently retired after sixteen years as a cook and server at the Albertina Kerr Center's luncheon cafe. The Center specializes in children's services.
In retirement Tom loved his domestic life. Despite all the years he donated his time to others, he still managed time for many other pursuits. He was a superb cook and entertained often in his home. As one of his friends aid, most of the many gathered in Tom's backyard had a recipe given them by Tom. Tom loved to knit sweaters and completed many needlepoint projects including rugs, and chair covers, which beautifully displayed his skill. Tom and Joe traveled all over the world with friends to search for the rarest of birds.
But the thing I most admired about Tom was his masterful garden. What he and Joe achieved over the course of collaborating on the garden for twenty five years was breathtaking. So many different flowers, shrubs and trees beautifully co-existed in their spacious backyard. I often took visiting friends to see their garden. Tom and Joe were always welcoming, offering a drink and giving us the tour. My brother Doug was, for once, speechless with admiration. Kyle wandered up and down the paths closely examining the many superb plants, taking in the quality of the many copper trellises supporting clematis, and other flowering vines. Just a week before he died, Tom was too weak to come and meet my house guest, Pat, here on a visit, but he said, "Go to the backyard. Joe is working." Joe took us through every path, pointing out many different plant varieties, proud of the profusion of beauty. I knew Pat would love it and she did. He gave me a bouquet of dahlias, and a cutting from a hydrangea that has just begun to bud in my own garden. I was sorry Pat didn't get to meet Tom and a few days later, he was gone.
I have always regretted that I never brought my camera to Tom and Joe's garden, but today I did. The weather was overcast--it had rained heavily all morning--and the sky was gray. But I took a lot of photos. They don't begin to capture the stately beauty of this place, but they are a good start. What a special talent it took to bring the garden to its current state--thirty-five years in all. It is a beautiful legacy that should be preserved.