“Oh, I just love her garden. One day I’ll stop and tell her.” My mom said this every time we drove by this woman’s house on our way to our pediatrician’s office. Though it’s been over a decade since last seeing this garden, my mom’s memory of this woman is still as clear as day: white hair cut into a bob, a pair of glasses, an apron tied in the front, and a straw beach hat.
I always knew we were approaching the house when my mom began to press on the gas pedal ever so slightly, take one hand off the steering wheel, and point. “Look at the colors!” She then would make note of the perpetually-open garage that had flats of flowers waiting to be planted, either in front of the house or wrapped around this woman’s trees.
Sometimes we’d see her outside working on the garden, sometimes she wouldn’t. It didn’t matter; we never stopped to chat.
Then one day as we made our way to the doctor’s office my mom noticed a for sale sign. In the days and weeks and months following, the flowers died and were not replaced. The garage remained closed and my mom never got to tell this woman how much joy her garden had brought a stranger and her kids for years and years.
There’s some truth to the whole “take time to stop and smell the roses” thing…just make sure you don’t miss your opportunity to chat with someone about it, too.