Tom and Emily had been married for three decades. They met in college, where they fell in love with each other from day one.
Emily was the student council president, always the most popular girl in the class. Tom, on the other hand, was a musician who made all the girls swoon.
Despite all the attention from classmates and friends, they only had eyes for each other. They were the most famous couple on campus and everyone’s favorite.
After graduation, they worked at different companies while living together. Emily was a successful marketing executive, while Tom worked at a computer company and performed at music concerts at night.
Eventually, they decided to get married when they had enough money to start a family. They had a beautiful child, Lindsay, who is now 25 and living in New York City, where she works at a top 100 successful company.
They were once a happy couple, and the beautiful photos hanging on the wall of their home remind them of that every day. They took exciting trips with their daughter, taking her to theme parks, zoos and beautiful vacation spots over the years.
However, as Lindsay grew older, those trips began to diminish. She moved to another state, where she decided to pursue her own career. While her parents lived in Texas, she was on the East Coast and barely visited them.
With their only daughter away and their age catching up with them, Tom and Emily are starting to become homebound. Emily has retired and taken up her passion for gardening to pass the time.
Meanwhile, Tom left the computer world and decided to start a small computer repair business in his garage to keep the money coming in for their daily expenses.
With their passions in different fields and no daughter to keep them connected, Tom and Emily barely communicated. They spent their days in separate rooms, yelling at each other whenever they needed something.
Tom paid no attention to his wife, leaving her to do the housework while he minded his own business. He expected her to serve him, because that’s what he thought wives should do for their husbands.
“Emily, where’s my favorite blue shirt?”, Tom shouted one day.
“I washed it. Put on your green shirt,” Emily replied from the other room.
“What? I hate my green shirt!” he complained.
“Then pick something from the closet, you have so many clothes. Where are you going anyway?” she yelled back at him.
“I’m going for a drink with my friends. Don’t wait for me!”
When Tom was done working, he went to meet two of his friends at the bar. They spent the entire evening there while Emily was at home, watching television in tears, longing for a healthy, happy relationship with her husband.
She didn’t understand how Tom could go out for a drink every week when they hadn’t gone out in years. They barely spoke to each other, and even during their meals at home, they barely interacted.
Their routine remained the same for years. Tom spent all day in the garage while Emily did all the household chores, such as cooking, cleaning and watering her plants.
The garden was Emily’s greatest treasure and sweet escape. She loved taking care of her plants and flowers, making sure they bloomed beautifully.
Over dinner that day, Emily decided she was tired of living such a monotonous life and tried to make a move. She hinted to Tom that they hadn’t dated in a long time and that he hadn’t given her a gift.
“I don’t think I’ve received flowers from you in two decades, Tom. There’s no romance left in our relationship,” she told him.
“We’re too old to look for romance in our lives. What are we, teenagers? Look at you! You’re not as fresh as you used to be. Your beauty has faded, and you don’t take care of yourself.”
Emily could feel her eyes filling with tears.
“So that’s what you think of me? Just an old maid?”
“Well, if you made an effort to fix your appearance, then maybe I’d feel excited about taking you on a date,” he replied before finishing his dinner and heading straight to the living room to watch TV.
Emily washed the dishes in tears. She stared out the window in front of her and saw nothing but an old woman. Maybe he’s right, she thought.
She felt insecure, and she was beginning to believe her husband’s words, as she hadn’t heard a compliment from him in decades. Emily felt bad about herself and thought she was no longer the beautiful, popular girl she once was.
Instead of pining for a date with her husband, she decided to focus her energy on including him in her daily plans so they could spend more time together. The next day, she asked Tom to help her grow the flowers.
Tom hates housework and when he finds out she needs help with the garden, he is furious. He never understood why Emily would take care of the garden, thinking it was an unnecessary hobby.
“You know how much I hate that garden. It’s a waste of money. I’m not going to waste my time working on it,” he yelled.
“But I need your help, Tom. I’m not feeling well, and I really need to water these plants,” Emily replied weakly as she walked toward the garage, where her husband was.
“Then work less!” he cried. “No one asked you to tend this garden anyway.”
Emily sighed and went back inside the house. She felt like arguing with her husband and telling him that she does so much more every day than just tend to her garden, but she let it go.
Instead, she went into the bedroom to lie on her bed and watch TV. After a while, she began to feel worse and fell asleep. A few hours later, Tom heard the sound of an ambulance outside, disrupting his loud music.
“What’s that noise?” he growled. Irritated by the noise, he decided to check it out. He opened the garage door and was surprised to see his wife on a stretcher, being carried away by an ambulance.
“Wait!” he tried to say, but it was too late. The ambulance had already driven off.
Tom quickly followed the ambulance in his car. When he arrived at the hospital, he found his wife in the emergency room. He went to ask the doctor what had happened.
“What’s wrong with her? Why was she taken to the hospital?” he asked.
“She is overly fatigued, which has compromised her immune system. She will have to stay here for a few weeks so we can observe her and run some tests,” the doctor explained.
When Tom saw his wife, he asked why she was so tired.
“I told you the garden was nothing but a hassle.”
Emily shook her head, tears filling her eyes again. If only he realized all the other things I do for him every day. This garden is the only thing that keeps me alive, she thought to herself.
Despite Tom’s remark, all Emily asked him to do was water the flowers at the house while she was away. Tom agreed, but when he got home, he forgot about them and they withered.
The next time Tom came to see his wife, she was hurt that he didn’t come to see her. However, she decided to forget her thoughts and ask how the flowers were doing.
“How is my garden?”
Tom is confused, but decides to admit that he forgot about them.
“I’m sorry, I was so busy with work that I forgot about them. They faded,” he admits.
At that point, the pulse monitor registered an increase in Emily’s heart rate. Doctors told her not to stress because it would make her condition worse. That’s what happened.
Tom is beginning to realize what a bad husband he has been to Emily. She has asked for almost nothing in thirty years of marriage, yet when she did, he couldn’t even give it to her.
To make sure Emily recovered quickly, Tom decided to take action.
“Don’t worry, Emily. There will be a beautiful garden waiting for you when you get home. So go ahead and rest so you can get home quickly,” he said.
The next day, Tom bought and planted new flowers for Emily’s garden. He landscaped it beautifully and made sure to take care of it himself until Emily returned.
Tom picked her up in their car when she recovered and she was overwhelmed by her husband’s surprise. Their garden was filled with colorful flowers and she was beaming with happiness.
At that moment, Tom saw how beautiful his wife really was. She had a youthful glow and it reminded him of the first time they had met in college, years before.
In the end, Tom realizes that it doesn’t take much for Emily to be happy, but he has neglected her for so long. He promised to be a better husband and put their marriage above everything else in his life. After all, she had devoted so much of her life to him, it was only right that he should do the same.
After lunch, Tom went to the mall to buy Emily a new dress. He asked her out on a date to a haute cuisine restaurant downtown, which rekindled the romantic relationship between the former couple.
Tom can’t believe his eyes when he sees how genuinely happy Emily is. To him, she looked as beautiful as she did when they were married thirty years ago.