'People would walk past church and say thank you for making a beautiful garden'

Stan’s story | A lifetime of planting, digging and growing

“I was born in Villanuova, in northern Italy. It’s a mountainous area near Lake Garda. I didn’t stay long at school. I got work at the railway, digging. I was really good at digging … and since then, I’ve had 155 jobs. I’ve never been married or driven a car. I came to Australia when I was 26, by boat. I got work at the Sydney Technical College, digging and planting gardens.”

“I was even named Australian of the Year, for my garden at the college.

After that, I moved to the Blue Mountains and I started going to the local church. I went every Sunday.  I loved it. The church was right in the middle of the main shopping street and I said hello to everyone. They all knew me. And outside the church there were two trees. I loved those two trees, but there was no garden at the church, apart from those trees. Nobody was doing the gardens.

“So I started digging. I made flower beds. I cut back the jacaranda, and I got rid of the dead wood, to let it grow better. Then I took the train to Penrith [half an hour away] and I walked to the flower markets on Saturdays. I bought beautiful roses, one by one, and I carried them home on the train, and I planted them in front of the church. I was 80 by then.

“All the plants came from that market. And back then I used to go to the church every single day. I’d be watering, and planting, and digging, turning up the soil. I couldn’t stay away. And all the people were very friendly. They would walk past me at the church and they would say thank you for making a beautiful garden.

“I live in a nursing home now. I’m 94 and I can’t get out to church. But I love to watch Christian programs on the television. I turn up the volume high and the singing fills my room. I clap in time to the music. Today is the day of the Lord, I sing! We will rejoice and be glad in it!

“My family back in Italy have mostly died now. And I haven’t got long to go. But I can never complain. I’m very happy with what I’ve done. I’ve been planting, and digging, and mowing the lawns. I have made gardens.”

“This is the day the Lord has made. We will rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118:24, NLT)

Stan’s story is part of Eternity’s Faith Stories series, compiled by Naomi Reed. Click here for more Faith Stories.

Bible verse Psalm 118 24

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