Mother keeps up small memorial years after son’s deathPublished 7:52pm Thursday, May 30, 2013
Although it’s been almost 15 years since Cory Alexander Brault, then 12-years-old, was struck and killed by a truck while riding his bicycle, his life is remembered each season as flowers blossom from a small garden along Old Marion Junction Road.
Alexia Brault-Garner, Cory’s mother, is the hands behind the small memorial garden, which is located across from the entrance to Lansdowne subdivision.
“Fifteen years ago my son was in an accident right here on this road,” Garner said, standing beside the garden. “After he passed away my daughter, Lindsay, asked me if we could plant some flowers here to remember him. She and Cory were like best friends. He breathed in, she breathed out — they did everything together.”
“The lady who owned the land has passed away since, but when we talked to her, she said we were welcome to plant the flowers,” Garner said. “So I just dug it up and started planting.”
The accident happened while Cory was trying to find his cousin, who was at a friend’s house in Lansdowne.
“It happened on a Sunday afternoon,” said Donnie Hogg, who Cory was looking for the day the accident happened. “I rode my bike earlier that day from Castlewood to Lansdowne to meet a friend. When Cory came by my house to see me, my sister told him where I was, so he grabbed one of my bikes and rode to Lansdowne.”
Walking outside his friend’s house and seeing the aftermath of the accident is an image Hogg said he will never forget.
“It happened so long ago but sometimes it feels like it was just yesterday,” Hogg said. “He was my best friend, he was someone I saw every day.”
Although she vividly remembers the day her son died, Garner said by planting the flowers she hopes to celebrate Cory’s memory and pay tribute to a young boy who didn’t get the chance to graduate high school, go to college and live a full life. His vibrant smile and joy is something she said she carries in her heart.
“It’s very important to me to know that he’s remembered, that he’s not forgotten,” Garner said. “I do this to honor him.”
Over the years, because of its close proximity to the road, Garner said the garden has been run over many times, its flowers trampled by wayward drivers. However, she said the garden has been anonymously repaired on several occasions.
“One day I came out here and noticed that someone put up two sticks on either end of the garden, kind of like guard rails,” Garner said with a smile. “I don’t know what this garden means to the community, but it makes me feel good to know that people recognize it.”
J. Parke Keith, longtime resident of Lansdowne, said every time he drives by the garden he is reminded of Cory.
“What she’s doing with the garden — paying tribute to her child — I think it’s wonderful,” Keith said. “I see her out there at least once a month, planting and watering the flowers.”
Another Lansdowne resident, who wished to remain anonymous, said she often sees Garner tending to the small plot, honoring her son.
“I guess it’s kind of like how other people put up a cross — this garden is her cross,” the resident said. “I know she could have done this at the cemetery, but instead she chose this place to remember her son, and we all think that’s beautiful.”
Even the city employees who cut the grass leave the garden alone, the resident said. “They honor it and don’t touch it. It’s so beautiful, why destroy it?”
During the fall season, Garner said she likes to plant pansies. In the spring, she plants whatever she thinks will grow and be able to stand the sun.
“Cory was in the sixth grade at Morgan Academy when it happened, so I like to plant maroon and gold flowers around graduation time,” she said.
The day Cory would have graduated high school, Garner said she came home from work to find a small tree sapling planted in her front yard. Cory’s classmates, she later found out, planted the tree.
“They left it in my front yard, completely unannounced, and that just meant so much to me,” Garner said with a smile. “Little things like that, it lets me know that he’s remembered.”
And just like the roots that anchor the flowers in her small garden, Garner said Cory’s memory is always “just beneath the surface.”
“That loss in our hearts, that hole in our hearts, it’s just a part of who we are now,” she said. “The closest thing I can liken it to is if you lost both your legs. You go on, you laugh, and you enjoy life — but when you wake up in the morning, you’re always reminded that your legs are gone. It’s your new reality. Although Cory is no longer with us, we will always remember him.”