Thursday, May 29, 2014
When I was 8 or 9 (maybe even a bit younger) there was a marvelous neighborhood widow that my friends and I loved to visit. Sometimes I went alone; sometimes with a pack of my childhood companions. She lived in a tiny, modest home, but her flowers and garden were magical--full of butterflies, hummingbirds and glorious colors. One could get lost in that magic.
Often on a lazy summer afternoon a group of us would go to her garden, pick a flower or two, then knock on her door to present our gift to her. She was gracious and welcomed us (and our theft of her flowers, or even a dandylion or two) with open arms and fresh-from-the-oven cookies. She could light up any youthful heart. Each of us was her special child.
I never really knew her last name. To all of us, she was just Aunt Ester.
On Memorial Day I happened to stumble onto her grave site. It said she died in 1961. It never mentioned how important she had been in so many childhood lives. I was in junior high by 1961 and did not even realize she had passed. By then I had moved beyond needing to visit and collect those hugs (at least that's what I told myself). I was too big for that silliness.
Oh how I wish I had visited every day and collected all the sunshine she gave so willingly. Some days I could have drawn on that love when the world seemed much more frightening than her garden. But she went into my past and was a treasure that was no longer recognized during those adolescent years.
Today, in my 60s, I think back and would love to visit again, just for a moment. Would love to collect hugs and cookies from such a tender soul. Sometime in the future (and not too distant) I hope I can become the selfless Aunt Ester that was such a sweet, sweet memory of my childhood and such a great example of love. Mostly, I just wish I could tell her thank you.
I took a single rose I had brought for my parents (picked in my garden) and placed it on her headstone. I wish I could have picked one from her garden. It would have been such a fitting memento for our neighborhood children's Aunt Ester.