Oh, to feel her keen presence once more


Kurt Race

My family and I with her in the garden circa 2011.

As a kid, I never had a favorite Disney princess. If anybody asked, I would reply with Tinkerbell the fairy. 

Tinkerbell, to me, was the most “magical” compared to the princesses. She was surrounded by various types of flowers, plants, trees, and animals; Pixie Hollow was the dream my younger self always wanted to come true. 

The closest thing I ever got to living my dream was behind a house on a small, quiet, road in northern Michigan. Behind the house, there was a garden, but not the kind of garden that was caught on a passing glance and forgotten. 

Once the faded red fence gate opened, her backyard filled the void inside of me. 

On the left side of the backyard, there was a shed. On the right, there was a beautiful garden. 

Despite being around four years old at the time, I still remember how magical the real-life Pixie Hollow was. The colored petals and green plants were well kept and looked beautiful on either side of the brick path. Her garden was drowning in the vivacity of colors like purples, yellows, pinks, blues, and oranges. The medium-sized ponds in the garden helped make the garden look peaceful and homely. 

Walking through the garden with her was a reward I took for granted. Cherishing the raw beauty with her while the rest of the family was on the deck is now impossible.

It was a canvas so covered, yet it felt so naked.

The fence gate closed on the way out, leaving Pixie Hollow behind, but her love for her family stayed. The house with magic hidden behind the faded fence was put up for sale and sold several years ago, but I still remember my Pixie Hollow dreams. 

She spent hours each year improving and working on the garden; it was a canvas so covered yet it felt so naked. She not only cared for her garden, but she endlessly cared for the people around her. Little things like her hugs can change a mood for the better, and I miss it—I miss her.

Alpena, Michigan, is so close to here, yet so far. The drive isn’t long, but being so restless made the trip seem like an eternity. Not only is sitting still on long car rides hard, but the thought of being with her in only a few hours made it harder. Once we had pulled into her driveway, imaginary weights lifted off my shoulders at the sight of her, but that can’t happen anymore.

Once the pandemic lightened, I was almost certain we would cross paths again. We would be able to hug again. We would be able to catch up on each other’s lives, or just talk in general again. We would be able to go out to dinner or shop again, now that I am a teenager and not a little kid. 

Never in my wildest dreams did I think she would be something I took for granted, just like the garden I adore dearly. 

I love you, Grandma.