She stopped by a few months ago to ask if we’d seen anyone knock the mirror of her car and told me she’d been in the hospital last fall with heart problems.
She’d just collapsed while visiting with friends, she said.
But she was fine now, and home, and trying to track down who damaged her car. It was probably those boys on their skateboards, looking for something to destroy. Would we keep an eye out?
Strange how after that, little things take on greater importance. A florist drops off flowers and I watch until I see her leave the house again, slowly and leaning on her granddaughter’s arm, to be sure I don’t need to offer condolences.
She’s not been driving that car lately. The weather has warmed and the flowerbeds are blooming but I haven’t seen her out; just the granddaughter throwing sheets over rose bushes during late May frosts.
Other years, she’d spend hours out in her lawn, working in her garden or washing and painting, again, lawn furniture and white sculptures. We’ve watched her chase squirrels from her bird feeder with a broom, over and over. She pesters the neighbor on the other side, asks if he minds if she sprays the weeds along his side of the fence. I know our dandelions get under her skin, the way they go to seed and threaten her green, flawless lawn.
That I haven’t seen her speaks volumes.
Then yesterday I watched a nurse leave the house, dressed in pastel scrubs, and saw the home health agency decal in her front window. I don’t think she has long now.
It’s strange, this watching life play out through our big front window. We speak on rare occasion – I borrowed a saw from her our first Christmas in this house when the tree was too tall and needed cut down – and I don’t remember her last name. But I’m watching her life wind down even as she watches ours from across the street, sees an infant try her first crawl into the grass and the dog run crazy through the neighborhood and shrubs slowly be cut back down to size.
There’s a strange sort of intimacy among strangers, this living in a quiet neighborhood.
I wonder many more times I’ll see her careful steps out into her garden; and I’m watching the obituaries for women named Sarah.