A summer learning about living and dying. Fran Cannon, age 13, was following her Mom’s suggestion that she step out of her comfort zone when Fran embarked on a Learning Web apprenticeship last July. Learning to cultivate dahlias or fight pests feasting on squash was only part of her apprenticeship in the Hospicare Gardens with gifted gardener and mentor, Lisa Miller. Fran, in the early stage of her life, joined a community of adults: those in the midst of their lives like Lisa and other Hospicare staff, and also those at the end of their lives— the residents. “This garden,” Fran pointed out, “it is not just about plants and stuff, it’s about the people here. It’s not just a garden—it is a really special place for the people at Hospicare.”
When deciding on the interest area she wanted to explore, Fran thought about things she loved doing including baking and gardening. “I always gardened with my mom and dad in my backyard,” she said. “I helped them do the landscaping around the house. I think of it as both a hobby and possibly a career—I like landscaping, but right now I don’t know what I want to do when I grow up.” Fran and Lisa worked together on the extensive grounds around the Hospicare residence. “It’s really fun, I love it!” Fran recounted. “At first I thought I would just garden and walk around but the garden really does have an importance to the people staying here. The residents, I see them walking in the garden. I know my grandma likes to get out and walk. This is really a special place. I think it’s really cool that I get to help out and make it beautiful so the residents can get outside and enjoy the gardens.
Mentor, Lisa Miller, thoroughly enjoyed collaborating with Fran in the gardens, “I was so pleased with how the experience evolved,” said Lisa. “What a great fit, we’ve found out we have a lot of similar interests –badminton and a love of zinnias! I was impressed with Fran’s abilities, her friendliness and genuine care of all living things. Fran learned about Hospicare and became more comfortable around residents and learned so many things about life and death at Hospicare and in the garden.” Fran agreed, “I haven’t really experienced anyone dying in my family. I have patience for a person in a wheel chair, it’s kind of like some people wouldn’t be able to be with them, but I am fine with it.” As for the future, Fran said, yes gardening and helping at Hospicare is definitely something I want to keep doing. At first I thought I’d do it for just the summer but I really like it and I can’t imagine doing it any other place.”
For another summer, Fran is continuing her apprenticeship at Hospicare. This summer Fran would like to learn more about plant identification in addition to maintaining the gardens as she did last summer. Fran is an artist with drawing skills; therefore, Lisa thought that Fran could help her map the gardens. This would be a project that combines Fran’s drawing skills with the activity of learning about all of the plants in the gardens. Fran will also setup permanent plant labels throughout the gardens that were donated to Hospicare recently. The map will be great to help residents and visitors learn more about the gardens.
Hospicare’s tagline—“It’s About How You Live”— captures the essence of Fran’s apprenticeship experience. Fran learned about beginnings and endings and that she could, indeed, move out of her comfort zone and thrive. Fran became a part of the community at the Hospicare residence, enriching both the residents’ surroundings and her own life.
To learn more about our apprenticeship program, see https://www.learning-web.org/cceap/.