Japanese Maple

It is one of those sunny days just before fall when you want your windows to sparkle, so I decided to take out the Windex and go to work in my dining room. It looks out onto the most beautiful 100 year old Japanese Maple tree and I want to see it's glory this fall when it comes into color....and I pause to wonder. Once it was young and saw the people around it care for it. As it grew it saw children grow and climb on it's strengthening branches. It became majestic and people stood under it for marking time....today I think about it and want to have clean windows so I can see the splendor as it bursts into color this season.......
I saw the house in the real estate add that said OPEN HOUSE today. I wanted to go even though it was in the "city" because it was really cute and oh so super affordable. CHEAP actually! "Steve barked I am not going to live in Brockton!" at which I replied "oh let's just go look!"
That was ten years ago.
Days come and go and before you know it you are a different person from that day. I remember that it was difficult for me to say I lived in Brockton. Maybe it was self centered and conceited but I think it was more because of the reaction I had gotten so often. "WHAT!" Yoouuuuuuu live in Brockton? Well, in the beginning I could reply when asked with an answer like this "we actually have two homes, a house on the ocean and another near Easton" and leave it at that. Time passed and we sold the house on the ocean and kept the one we live in now in Brockton, and I began to say "I live in Brockton" because it is home. It is beautiful and the neighborhood is the best I have ever lived in....Hmmmm go figure, the neighbors in Brockton are the Best? YUP!WOW!
I share a driveway with one of my neighbors and just as afraid as I was to see how that would work out, I think my neighbor was even more afraid. After all she had been in her house for more than 30 years and been neighbors with the same family for nearly as long. Now, things were going to change for her. The first time I met Kathy she was so sweet. She brought a welcoming gift to us and I remember noticing how well dressed she was. She was half a generation older than I so, she was brought up to look nice before leaving the house and she had gracious manners. As years went by she never forgot my birthday, Easter, Christmas or Thanksgiving and would always send flowers. She wasn't an in your face neighbor but she was always available, polite, generous and "neighborly" and she kinda felt like what it would be like to see my mom again.
She owned a home on the cape so she was gone from Memorial Day until Labor Day and then would return as spry as she left. Then, two years ago she changed. I couldn't put my finger on it at first. She wouldn't always keep up with my conversations and often she would tell me about her glorious time when she was a child over and over. I loved the stories she would tell of "Old Brockton" It was magical for me. However, they became the only conversations she would have with me, and I began to wonder. About eighteen months ago I received a phone call from her family telling me that Kathy was in the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. It was devastating for me to see the woman I first met, who dressed so beautifully and had her hair done each week change before my eyes. She became recluse and weary, closing the shades of her tv room window because it looked out onto my gardens. Her home which was always lit and welcoming was now dark by 6 pm. Her car was locked in the garage and her routine was changed. She lost weight and her hair grew long and her face transformed to that of a scared child....
Hum.......... last, swipe of my cloth and I am finished ......I burst into tears.....I miss my neighbor. She was a good example to me of what a good neighbor is and should be......time marches on again, hardly noticing........... I wonder if the maple tree does.
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5 comments:

Carola Bartz said...

What a beautiful story - and so sad. It's hard to see what Alzheimer's does to people we love. I witnessed that with a neighbor of mine. We feel so helpless. And the change kind of sneaks on you.
You're truly blessed to have had such a lovely neighbor and such beautiful memories.

Creative Monkey Designs said...

Awesome sharing Donna. As you know, I live in Brockton too and so relate to the reactions given when we answer the question.....Where do you live? I have lived here for 30 years and Brockton has served me and my family well.

Dave said...

Donna, another wonderful story and more insight into who you really are. I love reading these stories, I can only imagine what Lisa and Mike must think when they read them. And to have all these word pictures painted for Carly and Colin to read some day. What a wonderful gift!

Anonymous said...

I have kept looking for a new story since the last one... When I saw the new post, I surprised myself by saying out loud, "Yeah!"

Once again, I was engrossed in the words, the pictures painted in my mind, and the topic.

You did justice to your neighbor in this story. You are a very special neighbor, too.

Shelia said...

Beautifully written, beautiful subject, beautiful writer.