I should have recognized the signs, but I didn’t.
Not until I actually saw the sign.
The one posted at the edge of my neighbor’s property line which read that she was in violation of some town ordinance:
“All landscaping shall be maintained so that lawns, hedges, bushes and trees shall be kept trimmed and free from becoming overgrown and unsightly.”
The sign said my neighbor had thirty days to clean up her property or she would be fined by the town.
It was signed by the Lawn Police.
Sometimes in life we have to look past the obvious, down to the root, to find the real problem.
The town had it all wrong.
In reality, it isn’t my neighbor’s lawn that is a mess, it is her life that is a mess.
My neighbor was in her 70’s when she moved into the neighborhood, some twenty years ago. That makes her in her 90’s today.
She moved in alone, and has been alone for all of that time.
The root of the problem is she is now ninety-something years old. She no longer has anyone in her life to do maintenance things for her.
She is too old.
She is without family.
She is alone and weak.
The town says my neighbor is not living up to code.
But I say that I, as her neighbor, am the one not living up to code.
The towns way of helping her is to post a sign on her property saying she is in violation. Giving her an ultimatum – either clean up her lawn or she will be fined. Is she doesn’t pay the fine they will do the work and then put a lien on her house for the cost. As if her beneficiaries would take action because of this threat. The joke is on the town as she has no beneficiaries.
It is not my neighbors lawn that is in dire need of some love and care, it is my neighbor herself.
I have walked passed my neighbors house virtually every day on my daily walk.
I am angry with myself for not recognizing the signs, and never once asking her if she needed any help.
I can make a lot of excuses why I didn’t pick up on the signs, but the reality is, I should have.
I am furious at the person who, instead of calling my neighbor to see if they could be of any help, called the town to report that she was not living up to code.
It takes me exactly 72 steps each day to walk past my neighbor’s home.
Only 72 steps to look the other way.
Today, after I walk the 72 steps I approach my own home.
I walk up to my property line and look at my own lawn.
I read it.
I once had the most gorgeous lawn, one of the best in my neighborhood. Kentucky Rye sod so green and thick it made you to want to throw your sneakers off and walk bare foot.
Today, it is not in that shape.
Today, my lawn is saying that I am struggling.
Because I am.
There are patches of my lawn that are green, full, beautiful and magical.
There are also spots in my lawn where weeds sprout up faster than I can pick them.
And then there are the dead spots.
That is a very good read on my life right now.
There are beautiful parts of my life where everything seems like it is part of Utopia.
Then there are problems that erupt and spread faster than weeds ever could. These weeds require nearly all of my attention.
And then there are the dead spots.
The spots where beautiful green grass once was, but is no longer.
I wonder what people see when they look at my lawn.
As I see it, we all have a choice in life.
We can either be the person who calls the town to get the sign put up at the edge of the property.
We can be the person who takes 72 steps to walk on by, and look the other way.
Or we can be the fertilizer.
I choose to be the fertilizer.
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