I found out this morning that a very dear neighbor and friend had passed away this week. My heart just hurts thinking that I will never again sit with her in person and share news of the neighborhood and our families. I will never again hear her generous compliments, her wise insights, her unfailingly positive voice. I will, of course, have talks with her and hear her voice - but only in my head - in my memories. She will now be in that part of my life that holds memories of my grandparents - rich, full memories - but not nearly as wonderful as all those in-person chats - not nearly as comforting as warm hugs.
When we moved to this street in 1975, Babe's mother lived at the end of the street. Grace was an old woman at the time - at least to my 25 years. I liked her because you always knew where you stood with her. If she wasn't pleased, she told you - likewise, she never hesitated to pass on a compliment. She had the most incredible gardens. They reminded me of my grandmothers' gardens. In the early 80's - shortly after we moved into this house on the lake, Grace passed on and Babe and her husband, Glenn, moved into her house. Babe immediately became a favorite neighbor. She was an excellent role model for aging gracefully. I don't think I have ever met anyone as genuinely positive and appreciative of those around her.
Babe had back problems and let a lot of the gardens go back to lawn. In the process, she shared countless plants with neighbors and friends. I remember talking to her one year shortly before my birthday. I mentioned that I loved Siberian squill or scilla. On the morning of my birthday, she came down the street with a small bucket full of scilla and other treasures from her garden! She never failed to mention how much she loved my gardens - or to tell me what a wonderful man I'm married to - or what wonderful young men I've raised. I am going to miss her terribly.
This morning our son came out to visit - and do a couple loads of laundry. We were talking and I mentioned that I had seen Babe recently at the nursing home, and that she had said how much she had enjoyed seeing him a couple years ago. Our son said why don't we go down and visit her this morning? We decided to wait an hour so she would be up and ready for the day. A half hour before we were going to head out the door, Babe's son called and gave me the news. I was so glad that we had been thinking of her before John called - it actually helped soften the blow.
Next spring, when the ground has thawed and plants have sprung back to life, I will walk down to her yard and ask her son if I can dig up a few things from her gardens. John will say of course - Mom would want you to have some plants to remember her by. I won't need plants to remember Babe - but I will treasure having a small part of her in my gardens.