August 3rd- the enviroment changed-Chris Ritchey

August 3, 2013 at 5:45 pm 4 comments

Another “third” of the month comes quickly, stalking the unwary soul , shivers to the core in its bleak reminders of what should have been, and passes to yet return again, all too soon………


When we first purchased this old house, a neighbor, informed me the previous owners had covered over a pond in the back garden. Maybe it is because I grew up with beautiful gardens in England, maybe it is because many hours were spent as a little girl making up stories in my head about fairies sitting on lilly pads and riding on backs of goldfish. Ponds have always given me pleasure .

The pond we uncovered actually appeared in a photo on the front page of the Morning Journal, years ago , advertising the Ohio Scottish Games. Both my children were involved in the Scottish Arts.

When we uncovered the pond I planted a small Willow tree , which grew to immense proportions, putting that particular pond in too much shade.

I loved the Willow tree- she was the first to green in the spring and the last to lose her leaves in the fall. AND she hid, behind her waving fronds, my husband’s idea of garden design :(Definitely a clash of cultures there – he considers a garden is “storage” sigh– the Willow tree marked the boundary between his ideas and mine.
Chris and my husband dug another pond in 2002( with much grumbling ) but I got my desired water fall going from the top pond to the bottom .

For years the pond thrived in the dappled sun light under the willow tree. Her shade, in the hottest days of Ohio summers, she kept the pond water healthy and protected it and her many goldfish safe from the overhead prying eyes of the blue and green heron that ply the sky. I couldn’t manage to get the water lilies to bloom though , it was too shady for them .

A rose, planted by the water fall, struggled to reach the sun every year but managed a plethora of blooms every May. Water Iris, their delicate yellow flowers, attracted the bees and dragonfly cruised the surface.

I have written about last Mother’s Day gift from my son

The Ghost Koi has become such a wonderful memory and such a burden.if anything happened to that Koi because of “us” …..I would feel I had let my son down once more. I wake with trepidation every day that I will find something wrong . Poor Misty , Chris’s dog, now joining him in death – I could not save her either. There is an illogical guilt that comes with the legacy of “motherhood” and loss of precious life. You always feel you didn’t do enough and that it should not be you waking to sunny mornings.

And what I have left of a life gift given to me from Chris glides like a the ghost he is named for through the reeds in the pond.

The Willow tree, after weathering many storms , was becoming a danger -branches breaking and possibly diseased. I didn’t want my grandchildren under it when they came over. So my lovely Willow had to come down .

I should have realized that such a drastic change in the environment of this garden would have a ripple effect. The pond, which had thrived hand in hand with the Willow now, was in full sunlight.

Oh! the roses loved it, the water iris blossomed, I even had a water-lily blossom but all was not well- the string algae also thrived ( as it did every spring) but the extra sunlight caused a reaction of sorts and my pond went from this in April

to water like this

Then my worst fears were realized. We started finding dead and dying fish , one and then three and then four. I held my breath, started researching the problems that may be causing the perfectly healthy fish to die!

Stress, The environment changed too rapidly they could not adapt quickly enough. The Willow tree, no longer there, shading the waters , collecting the rain in her branches shedding it way , protecting the pond from the dirty run off had caused too much stress to the fish. They were suffering and apparently when they suffer and get stressed they secrete a slime substance that causes their gills to clog and they die.
We lost 16 fish, we had to change the water in stages, added more oxygen , more filters and pumps and 200 dollars worth of medicine. Three weeks in and I can at least see the waters clearing . The water lettuce and water hyacinths are starting to cover the surface hopefully giving more shade and taking in the nutrients that allow the algae to grow. The ghost koi is still with us at the moment and the frogs are croaking but not figuratively.


You see, the lesson learned is that we are all connected, dependent upon one another; losing one important member of this garden of life can cause the rest of us in the pond to suffer such stress as to no longer be able to draw breath.

Grief over losing my son is like that and I struggle, like the koi, to survive in an enviroment that has changed beyond my control………. I am lost in a strange murky brown world- happiness poisoned by grief, the beauty of life has become tainted with the loss of you- my son…………. nikchrmis-1

Entry filed under: Chris Ritchey, death, grief, Love, MISTY, Mothers. Tags: , , , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. kiki watchorn  |  August 4, 2013 at 1:42 am

    Wow, what a beautiful pond .Glad you are getting the algae under control. We had that problem a few years back it took around two weeks before the water cleared up. I understand how important your pond is to you. Chris was such a handsome young man with a beautiful smile. My prayers will be with you.

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  August 4, 2013 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you Kiki – he was a handsome young man actually he was very sparing with his smile but when he did he lit up a room. I loved him with all my being and still is very very very hard some days … I think I could’ve filled my pond with the tears I have shed…

  • 3. Mark Teleha  |  August 7, 2013 at 10:51 am

    Beautiful and poignant piece, Loraine. Lotsa hugs.

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August 2013

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