I met Mary 26 years ago when I was eight years old. I had just moved down the street from her and the neighbor kids and I would make forts directly across from her home. She would occasionally poke her head out her front door and tell us to be careful or to keep off the flowers. I spent about a year being afraid of her (I know it's difficult to imagine someone being afraid of such a sweet lady!). Than one spring day I decided to pick her some flowers, but because I was still to afraid to talk to her I placed the bouquet of flowers on her doorstep, rang the bell and ran. That was the extent of our relationship for about another year or so. I and my siblings would pick flowers for her, bring her a treat, or make her a little something, ring the bell and run.
Then one day I was caught redhanded! Mary had been wondering which children in the neighborhood had been leaving her the surprises and when she opened her door just as I and my siblings were about to ring her doorbell she found out. From that encounter we discovered just how nice and sweet Mary really was. Now that we were no longer afraid of her we began to talk each time we would bring her a little present. Often she would invite us in and we would be treated to stories of her life or hear the latest she had watched on the news and be told how bad our world was getting. When I was in high school we moved to another part of town, however I continued to stop by her home on occasion. When I left for college I would often stop by to talk to Mary on trips home.
I recall one fond memory of Mary giving me encouragement after a breakup with my boyfriend and her sweet conviction that everything would turn out for the best. I remember how excited I was to return a short time later to tell her the amazing "coincidences" that led to us getting back together and engaged! Over the last few years as her health has been getting worse and worse she wasn't always able to visit when I knocked on her door. I feel so blesses that on my last trip to Auburn in January of this year, she was having a good day and able to meet my husband and our latest addition of twin boys. It warmed my heart to see the babies reaching for her and giving her kisses.
What a blessing she has been to my life. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be her neighbor and friend.