My neighbor Martha passed away this week after a long battle with emphysema. I will miss Martha and have found myself thinking about her a lot these past few days.
When my husband Dan and I moved into the neighborhood, Martha invited us over for tea and cookies. We sat in her immaculate living room and talked about our family and the volunteer work we had been doing in Mexico. It felt like home, and I was thankful to have a neighbor like Martha who was concerned that we’d feel welcome.
I’ve looked out my window nearly every day for the past eight years and said a prayer for Martha. I’ve felt a responsibility to keep an eye out for her well-being and be there for her if she needed me.
Martha was alone, you see. She had no children, and her husband had already passed away. As her health declined this past year, Dan would collect her newspaper each morning and place it by her door so she could easily reach it. One day I noticed her gardener mowing her lawn. Then the sound got louder, and I realized he was mowing our lawn as well. Martha motioned to me from her doorway and told me she was thanking us for Dan’s kindness.
I admired Martha’s impeccable garden and was honored when she asked me to take care of her plants while she went on vacation. Martha’s plants were like her pets. She lavished love and care on them and they thrived.
The other day, Martha’s best friend came over. We talked for a few minutes, and she explained that Martha had set up a trust and the bank would be taking over her house. I asked about the plants and she advised me to collect them and look after them, because once the officials from the bank came and locked up the property, the plants in the backyard would be lost. Once again, I felt honored. Martha’s plants had brought her so much joy, and now they would bring joy to me and my family.
Martha taught me a lot, and I want to be sure that her legacy of kindness and friendship, like her plants, lives on. In the future, I will make a point of welcoming people into our neighborhood. I won’t pry or be invasive, but I’ll let them know I’m here if they need anything. We all need a good neighbor from time to time.