In October 2002, I received a thoughtful gift from a close friend. The gift was a surprise; one that allowed me to choose how to use it. My choice was to purchase a plant – Phyllostachys aurea, Golden Bamboo – and a large terra cotta container in which to grow it.
I bought the plant because bamboo was one of my brother’s favorite plants. Some years before, he and my spouse had planted a small stand of Golden Bamboo in the little garden outside our living room window. My brother loved to see its progress each time he came to visit. When the plant outgrew the garden and we removed it, he asked us to salvage a small stand of it for the future home he envisioned.
My brother’s future did not develop as he hoped.
He did not give himself enough time. I understand this is not my judgment to make, and I recognize where it comes from. Often it seemed as if none of us had enough time with him; maybe that luxury was not his to give or ours to take. His was an impatient nature; a restless and frightened intelligence that struggled through a frantic and chaotic life. He found only one way out of the chaos.
The stand of bamboo I set aside for him lived for some time, and for a few years my brother would ask about its progress. Eventually, he stopped asking and I never told him it died. The bamboo I bought after his death has proven to be successful.
My brother did not give us time to say good bye. There was no time to offer one more moment of help. But we have had the luxury of many years to find, maybe because of him, the peace that eluded him during life and to hold a deep love for the compassionate, funny, joyful person we saw when he was calm.
And that was his gift to us.
In memory of Kirk Samples, July 10, 1956 – October 19, 2002