God has the most extraordinary ways of humbling me... the latest includes an elderly neighbour named Lena.
Lena loves to keep her lawn and property immaculate, to the point where she will go out and pick up leaves by hand, even if there are only half a dozen-so that it's spotless. Always.
She's in her seventies (ish) and so she has a lot of stories to share. She lives with her adult daughter in their immaculate home, about 5 doors down the street. She grew up in Nazi Germany and the war ended when she was an early teenager. She immigrated to Canada and married her husband, who died within 13 years of them being married (he was only 40). So rightfully, she has lots of stories to share.
I don't always have time to listen to Lena, but she always has time to talk. Nearly everyday as I walk home from the bus stop, she wants to talk-which is fine, sometimes. I often am getting home later than I'd like anyways, because of the bus and working late. By the time I walk my 10 minutes (not long, I know-but longer than it used to be) from the bus stop, I'm usually ready to go in and cook some dinner, empty my bladder and get on with the evening adventures... and Lena, like clockwork, is working in her garden and greets me with a friendly smile and a lot of
Yesterday I just wasn't in the mood, after about 20 minutes. At about the 20 minute mark we had talked about the economy, her old Polish neighbours on Clifton Downs, the man was a drunk who abused his common-law wife(girlfriend); the woman had a well-mannered son who grew up to have three daughters who have all married. I found out that the man drank himself to death, literally, but not before locking his girlfriend out of the house and Lena had to rescue her. We spent about 10-15 minutes on that topic. Then we talked about other things, like her cats and how they had to put the Ginger one down, but then they got another and had him for 18 years but then he died and now he's in a urn, cremated ($250!) and will be buried with her when she dies, which of course will be by her first husband. Oh right, and the people who my landlords bought from? well, he died of C-Difficile (which by the way had another local outbreak at the hospital and, oh the politicians!) and they were nice, but he was buried by his first wife (because their marriage was both a second one, both of their first spouses died...) and at the 20 minute mark we started talking politics. Talking politics with anybody can get heated, but when you start insulting my party and the people I believe in, I want to bop you on the nose! Even if you are Lena, the 70-something elderly lady who lives down the street with lots of stories.
So, she finally wraps up and I'm headed towards home to make the Shepherd's Pie I've been dreaming about all day.
Dinner took too long to make, so I ate ketchup chips instead and did errands and the pie is cooked and that's what I'm having tonight instead.
The humbling part? Came this morning as I walked to my bus stop...
There's Lena in her front yard, picking up leaves. And she looks at me and says "I won't keep you long, I know you're on your way to work" and she reaches out gives me a hug and says "I love you, have a wonderful day. You know, you are the sweetest girl, there are not many anymore-I have the most respect for you, now you have a great day."