For nearly 8 years I have lived 3 trailers down from a man named Dean who passed away in November. Even though his lifestyle choices were different than mine, I chose to be kind to him and we enjoyed many conversations while I was passing on a walk or driving past. In our little redneck trailer park, his home was an oasis...a corner lot that was beautifully landscaped. For many years his pug Petunia, better known as "Tuna" (because his grandkids could not pronounce Petunia), guarded the porch. After she was gone, his porch was guarded by a yellow Tonka dump truck, which my son always coveted! :o) After the birth of my twins, when I was an old Mama with three young babies under 18 months of age, he brought me beautiful yellow orchids! Later he gave me one of the plants, but I have not been able to make it bloom...maybe this year it will. I knew he loved gardening. I knew he had been a teacher. I knew he was skilled as a carpenter, having learned from his dad. Yesterday, I went to his memorial service and these were the things I didn't know:
* As a young boy he lost his brother and mother
*He was an awesome big brother, being 14 years older than his youngest sister, he took his two little sisters on all kinds of adventures, the kinds of things you don't do with your parents
*He knew when not to speak a word
*He had a beautiful singing voice and his first solo in church was "In The Garden"
*He served as a missionary and was "burnt out" by the church (sad)
*He loved classical music
*He always lived in corner houses and bought them in lesser shape and fixed them up, especially the garden
*He had the philosophy of taking a backroad whenever he could and leaving the 4 lane hiways to those in a hurry (reminded me of the Cars movie)
*He was known for his awesome BBQ hamburgers
*He traveled the US with an RV
*He loved the North Coast (CA)
The pictures above are from his garden. I am going to miss his garden. I'm going to miss his smile. And it made me sad that I didn't know some of these things about him BEFORE he died. Jesus told us to 'love our neighbors as ourselves' and sometimes that is hard. Sometimes we don't love ourselves and hopefully we treat our neighbors better than we treat ourselves. I know some of us, myself included, have had problems with neighbors who were like Mrs. Kravitz on the 1960s sitcom Bewitched...you know, gossiping, peeking behind the drapes, hiding in bushes! LOL That is usually the extreme. It makes me sad that we live today in American society where the vast majority of people do not even know their neighbors' names let alone anything else about them. I know I don't really want to know some of my neighbors (you wouldn't either), but I do remember growing up and being able to go to the grocery store and seeing the neighbors there or people who knew my parents and grandparents and recognizing me. To be honest, I think blogging is a prime example of how we as a society still have a need to be known and to know others in community. We are afraid to take the first steps out our front door and it is much safer to type "anonymously" on a blog our neighbors will likely never see.
What can you do to make someone smile today?