Flowers for Carlos, acts of kindness
His name was Luis Carlos Regalado Ramos, but you probably knew him as a kindly gardener named Carlos.
He was born and raised in Mazatlán, Mexico.
His father was a professional baseball player for the Venados and whose nickname was ‘Cartucho’, a reference to his explosive hitting style.
Josephina, his mother, was a wise woman who worked tirelessly as the cook in her family restaurant.
His brother Pedro remains a fisherman, and although Carlos loved the sea, he never learned how to swim.
He went to military college, studied to be a lawyer at university and even attended seminary with the idea of becoming a priest – but somehow none of these came to fruition.
Carlos immigrated to Canada in 1979 and worked here for many years in management training for Imperial Oil.
In 1982, he met the love of his life, Judy, while visiting back home in Mazatlán.
She was sitting on the beach at a resort and needed a towel, so he went and got one from a friend. He introduced himself as a fellow Canadian, and when she didn’t quite believe him, he produced a Burnaby library card as proof positive.
They were married in 1987, holding ceremonies in both Mexico and Canada.
Carlos loved homemade rice pudding, taking his wife to a little Vietnamese restaurant in Port Coquitlam. His favourite flowers were tulips and he dreamed one day of owning a vintage Mustang convertible.
Carlos passed away quietly a few a months ago, so he never really got to drive that convertible and yet he seemed to be a man of very few regrets.
As gardeners, we both understood what nature teaches us with each passing spring, summer and fall, that winter is inevitable and nothing really lasts forever, except, perhaps, an act of kindness. This was manifest in the simple generosity of a man who found the time to buy piñatas for the neighborhood kids, provide bicycles for migrant workers and help them cope with their new life in Canada, bring back ‘Mexican’ hot chocolate and ‘little lobsters’ (giant prawns) from Mazatlán for his friends and neighbors, help hotel workers back home to form a union, go pick-up those flowers for the little old ladies who didn’t drive anymore, and always just find a way to be kind to others – proving that his training as a lawyer and priest, although incomplete, were taken to heart and put to good use.
I think what I will miss the most about Carlos was the cheerful ‘Amigo Mike’ greeting he gave me and his warm smile – things that didn’t cost him a penny and yet somehow, he understood their true value.
So in memory of the man who did so much for our community, I would ask those of you who knew him and his generosity to simply do the same for others. That way, these kind acts, which we will call ‘flowers for Carlos,’ will never really fade away and he will remain with us as much more than just a memory.
You can also find a memorial blog about Carlos and his unique perspective on life (first posted back in 2011) called ‘drink the milk, but don’t kill the cow’ at www.soulofgardener.wordpress.com.
Mike Lascelle is a local nursery manager and gardening author (email@example.com).