Daffodils, Tulips, and an Angel Watching Over
LK Hunsaker May 2009
When I was young I lived next to an older lady, widowed by the time we moved into the house next to hers. To this day, I've no idea when she lost her husband, or how. I knew she had a married daughter, and grandchildren, but they lived in another state. Which state, I also don't know. I suppose I could have talked with her more often. It never seemed necessary. And, in those days, children respected their elders and would never have been so nosy.
I'm also not sure how the tradition was started, but every May Day, my older sister and I would pull a piece of colorful construction paper from the book, twist it into a cone and tape it to hold its carefully-planned shape. Then, with as straight a cut as we could manage, we formed a handle, long enough to slip over a round door knob. Having this attached, we set out to find treasure.
To us, treasure was any of the little flowers we could find growing wild. We knew what we could pick and what we couldn't, and we always respected the boundary of our neighbors' yards. Purple violas were our favorite, but bright yellow dandelions worked as well. The combination was beautiful in our eyes.
Having collected enough of Nature's perfect things, we happily returned to our modest home and begged a few wrapped candies to fill the bottom of the cone, arranging the flowers above so a few would cascade over the edge. After one of us cautiously peeked outside to make sure she wasn't tending her yard, my sister and I hurried across the lush bright green grass, propped the May basket on Mrs. Brandt's doorknob, rang the bell and rushed away so she wouldn't find the identity of her admirers.
This gave us tremendous pleasure, hoping she would realize how special we thought she was, even if she didn't know who we were.
It's funny, looking back through the eyes of those children, realizing why she was so special to us. She was incredibly sweet and had a beautiful, warm smile. And there was nothing more. There didn't need to be anything more. This lady, who didn't have to acknowledge our presence, cared about us and liked who we were. In return, we cared about her.
Of course, we now realize she knew who it was bringing her the little day-brightening gift. And I'm guessing that she knows it was our younger sister who continued the tradition after we grew up and moved away.
Now, living over 1200 miles from home, in a neighborhood without elderly neighbors, I feel the loss of not having her next door. I think of what my children are missing; the knowledge and grace that comes with age, with learning the importance of the little things. The ones who well know how important the little ones are to our future and how important our memories are.
26 Dec 2001
An update on this little memoir that I meant to post yesterday: We have moved a couple of times since then and are now living beside a delightful older couple. My son spends a fair amount of time sitting with the gentleman around the little fire he likes to make in his yard and in return, gathers bunches of sticks from our property to take to him. I wish I had thought to have him try to sneak a May basket over yesterday.
With our parents in other states, it's nice to have this grandfather enjoy sharing his time with my son.
Look around. There are nearly always elderly folks who would enjoy the company of "adopted" young people, and what those kids get in return is invaluable.