Welcome to Grey Haven
Rededication of Freedom's Memorial Garden
Introduction: The forecast at Grey Haven for the day of the rededication was dismal. Rain, thunderstorms, high winds, but miraculously, when 1 PM came the skies settled and the program was underway. The full text of Marilyn's Greeting and Welcome is below...her words were powerful as always.
A huge welcome to all of you….it is so good to see so many of my friends here to help us rededicate this very special garden. This garden has a history that is both extremely important and heartwarming to so many of us. Let me go back to the beginning and share with you this history of Freedom’s Garden.
Yesterday was the sixth anniversary of Bob’s death. The year before he died, he and Kelly Faircloth talked a lot about putting in a garden where all of our dogs would be remembered…a garden that would belong to everyone who has ever lost a furry friend and where they could come to remember, quietly and knowing everyone here would understand. The first summer the only thing Bob and Kelly accomplished was to erect the entrance...the weather got too hot for any sane person to continue the work. Both of them planned on picking up the project from that point the following spring. But that didn’t happen. Bob died so very unexpectedly that I was sure the garden would be totally forgotten, but I was so very wrong. Every week our friends from all over appeared and worked and sweated and in less than three months, the beginning of this amazing garden was born. In June of that year we were able to hold a Celebration of Life for Bob and everyone who attended was aware of the magic of this garden…a garden conceived by two friends and constructed by so very many who knew what the loss of a companion meant and knew they could come here and remember…remember with tears and smiles and the pleasure that those memories will always bring.
With many work days over the years, the heat and time took their toll and the garden became harder and harder to maintain. We joked that it began to look a lot like Jurassic Park and no matter how hard we worked, we just couldn’t arrange enough work days or find enough people to come out often enough to keep the garden neat and tidy. It just wasn’t working…
This past fall my good friend, willing volunteer, driver of greyhounds and lover of every greyhound he sees, Russ Anderson, came up with the idea of making the garden smaller, condensing it and using pots to hold the colorful blooms and again making it a place of comfort for all greyhound lovers who have experienced both the love and the loss of a companion. Thanks to Russ, Kelly and so very many of you, Freedom’s Garden is again a place to visit and to remember. I am the lucky one…I can come out here at any time, day or night, and sit and think and smile. It’s your hard work and dedication that allows me the luxury of remembering Sport, my first gentle boy and the many boys and girls who followed him and gave me the burning passion to change my life and help as many greyhounds find a home as possible. Sport paved the road that led me to all of you…that showed me that there is goodness in humans who would walk alongside me and show the world that these creatures deserve a chance.
My eternal thanks to each and every one of you who has put so much into Grey Haven and given so much to make the world a better place for all greyhounds. I will add a bit more at the end of the program but for now I welcome my friends to step up and talk about the things that they wish to share. You are all welcome to speak…this is the one place you never have to worry about what you say. You are among friends who truly understand your words.
And now continued...Kelly Faircloth (GREAT), Jeanine Certo (down from Charlotte and with her parents...great to see you, Jeanine and to meet Gwen & Joe!), Carol Bellavia, Joyce Carta, Joan Harris (GPA Orlando), Joanne Ball (Senior Sanctuary) and Russ Anderson spoke before Marilyn concluded the program. Russ invited everyone to hang tags and mementos from their beloved departed friends on his inspired Garden addition, the Memorial Wind Chimes. And as these were hung, the group of about 50 attendees was silently united in sharing both individual loss and the comfort of being among friends who've all been down this road. The Garden was beautiful...and will only become more beautiful as the years pass.
And afterwards, there was food and drink and good conversation and memories and new beginnings. It was a very good day.
Our thanks to the very talented Certo Family for the photos.