Tuesday, May 01, 2007

For Miss Phyllis

No pictures today. I'll probably post some tomorrow when (and if) I've decided I'm going to survive today's Tackling of the Front Yard. Good grief, allow yourself to go to seed physically for the better part of a decade and the littlest things can lay you low. On the other hand, the front yard could probaby swallow a tribe and a half of pygmies and refuse to let them go again.

It has been one of those weeks that gets me to thinking about philosophical matters at a not-so-philosophical level. My next-door neighbor died last Thursday after a very long illness. I did what I could do for her during that time -- little grocery runs for oranges or cup-o-noodles, bringing her mail to her when she couldn't walk down to the end of her driveway anymore to the mailbox. She had a yard full of roses, and actual lawn, and a Mimosa tree that was both beautiful and a sore disappointment for her, having a mass of vertical fractures running down its trunk that made it very unlikely to survive in the long term. Her death is a bittersweet event. She was an interesting person and I loved to hear her tell stories and oh, how I will miss that. She was also living on inches the last few months, so fragile that she could have been gone at any moment, and slowly losing the shreds of dignity that she had clung to for so long. I am sorry for myself that she's gone, but now neither she nor her family is suffering any more while waiting for a slowly-approaching inevitability.

My mourning has taken a different turn this time. It's less about tears and more about introspection. What have I left undone that I would deeply regret if I were given no more tomorrows? Oddly enough, it isn't the novels that I've left unwritten for at least three decades of my life, it's that I didn't get the front yard weeded. I don't give a rat's furry little rump about what the neighbors think, or I would have had house beautiful years ago, so it isn't a keeping up with the Joneses sort of regret. It's that I don't have a place that my children deserve to play in. I know my kids don't need fancy play-areas to thrive and they could likely do without a lawn or intricate landscaping. But they so deserve a place that isn't eye-level weeds and unkempt gardening attempts, and certainly doesn't look like it's reverting back to the vacant lot from whence it sprang. I want them to be able to invite their friends over. I want to be able to invite MY friends over. I want to host barbeques and picnics and birthday parties. I want to hold brewing bashes and soaping circles and all those social things that I've been depriving myself of because the yard looks horrendous. (The house is looking marginally less horrendous now that I've tamed Stash Mountain and the kids understand that certain basic chores must be done or Mom goes mental.) And Miss Phyllis would have enjoyed a slightly more kempt yard next door, I'm sure.

So here's to Miss Phyllis and what she has reminded me of: that the important deeds to be done may often look the most mundane, and are often the ones right in front of our eyes.

1 comment:

Bobbisox said...

That is a good send up of your friend-neighbor and well worth the effort to make the yard something she WOULD have been happy next to.
Besides, then the kids would have room to roam and you could hold knitting circles; and pitch a tent for out of towners.
Thinking out loud.