Green thumbs and trembling fingers

Peter Leith is 89 and describes himself as ‘half-deaf and half-blind’, but he has never been one to dwell on his challenges. Green thumbs and trembling fingers continues his Aspects of Ageing series of true short stories.


Brentwood is an unusual aged-care facility. It stands on the edge of a small creek and its deck overlooks the creek. On the other side are a very large high school and a local community garden. 

On the deck are six, waist-level, raised, wooden garden boxes provided by the community gardeners. 

Carol, the daughter of a community gardener and a Year nine student, is showing 86-year-old Mary how to raise dwarf cacti. When Mary is working with Carol and the cacti, her hands stop shaking.

The deck, with its shade sails, is the focus of other inter-generational activities. 

Ben, a gigantic 17-year-old, single child and would-be physical education teacher, has learnt the game of cribbage from Gary, an 89-year-old ex-stable hand who once hoped to be a jockey.

They both know that Gary cheats, but seem to accept it as part of their friendship and ‘social contract’.


This is one of a series of short stories in a growing collection called Aspects of Ageing. Peter says the anecdotes are based on fact and “reflect the reality that there are many forms of ‘age abuse’.”

Do you have a story or an observation for Peter? Send it to [email protected] and put ‘Sunday’ in the subject line.

Related articles:
When mum died
The loving couple
The memory keeper

Written by Peter Leith


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The loving couple – a fly-on-the-wall moment

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Remember the good times – while we can

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