After such a lovely Spring Break, Luke and I were a bit lonely without the older kids. To combat this sad situation, we decided to walk to the school to have lunch with Jack and Anna. On our way, we passed one of my favorite houses. I love to slow my pace and linger at the well-manicured lawn and beautiful plants. The park like setting of benches under large oak trees evoke a quiet happiness. And, each holiday or turn of the season brings something new to admire. Many times I have driven by and seen an elderly couple working peacefully in this yard. We always smile and wave, but they are generally far back from the road. Today, the man was working right next to me as I passed. He stopped what he was doing to smile and nod at Luke and me. It appeared as though he would have welcomed a short conversation, but I did not stop, choosing instead to offer a cheery "hello" as we continued our walk. I immediately regretted my decision; I so wanted to tell him how much I admired his yard, but the moment had past.
As I was pondering what I should have done, a long buried memory resurfaced. When I was 9 or 10, my family lived in Massachusetts on a busy road. There were no children nearby, so my brother and I generally played together in the woods behind the house. Occasionally, we would ride our bikes down the dirt road that ran behind our yard. At the end of this road was a single, large white house with a beautiful yard. We made up stories about the house and convinced ourselves that something nefarious lived inside the walls. To us, the road was exceedingly long, but in reality, I imagine it was less than a quarter of a mile.
One day, there was an elderly lady working in the yard. I do not recall the specifics of the situation, but I know that eventually we were put to work. From that day on, we would occasionally venture down the road and find ourselves pulling weeds or pruning bushes. The lady's husband was ill and we never went inside the house. But, one day something changed. When we knocked on the door, we were invited inside. We sat and were offered cookies and a drink and we chatted with this kind lady. Although she did not speak the words, we learned that her husband had died. The dynamic had changed and I believe our visits became much more meaningful. Unfortunately, we were young and didn't quite understand what this change meant. Our visits were still infrequent. Eventually, we moved and this memory was long-forgotten...until today.
We all grow old. We should stop and quite literally, smell the roses. I wish I had been kinder and more attentive to my elderly neighbor when I was 10, and now 30 years later, I wish I had stopped to chat with my other elderly neighbor. Although, I have no reason to suspect my current neighbor is lonely, it would have been nice to offer him my sincere compliments on his yard.
I wish my children had more exposure to the older generation. I keep thinking there should be an eHarmony to match up families with no nearby grandparents with grandparents with no nearby grandchildren.