Sunday, October 05, 2014

It Was Time.

My kids mow my grass for me.
I've got bad knees and they show up when the wind starts whistling through the crabgrass, I come home from work and everything is neat as a pin. I appreciate the help so much.

So my son meets me in the driveway last week.
"Ma," he pointed to the house next door. "You know Doris over there? You need to go visit her."

Well, yeah. He was right.
A little background: my parents lived in this house for over 50 years.
They both passed away last winter. I'm living in their house.
The same neighborhood I grew up in.
The same bedroom I slept in when I was a teenager.
So the sweet little lady next door has known my folks.....not me....for lots of years. They
did neighborly things like share peaches and tomato plants and bags of thinned hostas over the fence.
As they got older, the visits became less frequent but they still did their share of chatting. Doris would bake salmon patties after my mom could no longer cook and she'd call to have my step-dad come over and pick them up for their dinner.
She misses my folks.
She really just liked knowing they were here and, admittedly, I've not been real social. I work, I come home, I go about my biz without wandering out of my own yard. One day she was out in front of her house, filling one of her many birdfeeders, caught my eye and flagged me down. I walked over to say hello.
"You never come visit. I had hoped you'd be better about visiting."
Ohhh man, I was in trouble.
She chewed me a bit. For a 90-year old lady, she's got a bit of bristle left and she gave me a good brushing, right out there in the front yard. I promised to return....soon.
I didn't. I let the summer months slide by, I made all sorts of excuses about it to rationalize it in my mind. It was sooo hot. Oh God, it was soooo humid. The grass was long, I hate walking through it. I'm tired.....I'm tired......ohhh what the hell, the truth is I was just being lazy and honestly, the longer I let the need to visit linger, the hard it got to make myself do it. 
Especially because she chewed me out last time.
"Ma," my son reminded me, "She's an old lady. Go visit."
So I did. Yesterday. I went empty-handed. Wished I could think of something to take her but I know she's careful about what she eats, I didn't know what to take. So I just went.
Why am I not surprised I had the best time, ever? The whole situation was like the biggest metaphor for life in general. We hear something calling to us in life, we hear it and we know it's our call and....for whatever reason....we ignore it. Usually it's fear that makes us ignore it.
In this case, I stupid fear she was going to chew me out again. I'll tell you the whole story of our visit because it's pretty cute. And it made me smile. Still makes me smile.
I knocked but could see through the big front window, she was already our of her chair and rolling to the door with her walker. Note to future self: she's 90 and she's navigating the room like a NASCAR driver with that little walker. Impressive! Just because we get wobbly doesn't mean we have to shrivel up and die. So she let me in with a big smile, I sat down and she sat down and we visited for a short chewing so far.....and all of a sudden she says:
"Oh! You're the one from next door, aren't you?"
Oh lord, what an ego-bust! She didn't even know who I was. Well, at least right away. But once she figured it out....."Now I know who you are, you haven't been over in a long time!"
Yep. There it was. The chewing.
It didn't last long. And I lived.
She told me about her life. And her kids. And her plants. And her birds.
And she told me about her quilts. She showed me the closet full of them she's made over the years. Piles and piles and piles of hand-stitched work in all kinds of colors. Looking at them....all of a sudden I solved a family mystery.
My two sisters and I have been sorting through my folks lifetime of possessions for lots of months now. We've made it through most of the stuff, maybe one more dumpster and a few dozen more trips to Goodwill to go. But there are a few mystery items and one of them is a big quilt.
Mom didn't quilt much. She collected fabric. She took classes. She planned to quilt. But she never got around to finishing much of anything. I sure as heck didn't make it. My sisters didn't make it.Who on earth would make a beautiful, hand-stitched quilt for our parents but we wouldn't know who it was?
Mystery solved.
And lesson learned.
I've been sleeping under that quilt for several months now. I love it. It's been hugging me to sleep, night after night after night after night.
When I left her house, Doris smiled really big and she said, "Thank you so much for coming over! Please come back again soon!"
All she wants is a hug back now and then.
I promised her. She'll get it.

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