Thursday, September 24, 2009

Amazing Grace

Writer's Workshop Prompt #1: If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Living Grace

The old man lived with his disabled daughter about a mile from Casita Scribe. He made his home in the red brick Colonial on the corner, & attended all the neighborhood gatherings. His wife had died about 18 months before.

He was a neighborhood fixture for more than 20 years. Folks who lived on his street, though, said he'd been a little "lost" since losing his wife.

I got to know my neighbor Bill only after he'd passed away himself & became another item in the local paper's police report.

Apparently Bill had been feuding with the state over details involving his daughter's care. He missed his wife, Julia. Frustration piled upon frustration, as they do in everyday life; after 79 years, I'm sure he'd seen his share.

A Verizon employee visited Bill's house in June. I don't know if the call was phone- or television-related. The newspaper didn't say. Bill, though, was upset with the Verizon man for some reason, & followed him outside to his van.

As the technician began to drive away, Bill reached into the van and grabbed the steering wheel for some reason. While details of what happened next are fuzzy, the end result was tragic. Bill fell in the driveway & died.

The paper never reported Bill's cause of death. The neighborhood mourned this senseless loss. A crew was hired over the summer to go through the house, clean it out & hold an estate sale.

I stopped by Bill's house last weekend, on the last day of the sale. No, I'm not a morbid voyeur, but I felt that even though I didn't know the man, I owed him some measure of respect. Most of the rooms were empty. A few knicknacks, a few sticks of furniture, kitchen dishes & utensils were all that remained of the life that Bill & Julia had built over 20+ years in my neighborhood.

Two hand-crocheted Christmas stockings hung in front of one of the living room windows. One, done in red & green yarn, said "Jim." The other, crocheted in the same style with the colors in an opposing pattern, said "Grace." I assumed those stockings once belonged to Bill's kids.

Out on the back porch, where pots & pans, an unfinished rocker & glassware stood watch on the wooden floor overlooking mature azalea bushes, a small plant still thrived, in dirt long-cracked by lack of water & care.

The plant, in a small clay pot, looked like it hadn't been watered in about 3 months. Probably had sat out on that screened-in porch since June, when Bill died.

I hadn't planned to make a purchase. But I went back in the house & asked the woman in charge of the estate sale how much she wanted for the little green plant. I plunked down 3 dollars & 15 cents. She's mine, now.

I don't know this for God's own truth, but I'm guessing Bill took care of the little plant in memory of his wife. From the looks of the house & the yard, I'm guessing that Bill & Julia had mighty big green thumbs.

I'm taking care of her now. I named the little plant "Gracey," after the name crocheted on the stocking hanging in Bill's window. I repotted her, watered her & now she's on my screened-in porch.

But I need your help, please. I have no idea what kind of plant Gracey is, or how to really care for her. Please, someone, take a look at these snaps & give me a good guess. Her leaves are kind of thick and waxy, like a Jade plant, but serrated around the edges, not round.

I Gracey to thrive, in memory of Bill. Even though I never met the poor old guy, I still feel the loss of a someone's friend, someone's Dad; my neighbor.

If I could travel anywhere, I'd like to travel back in time. Back to a time when Bill & the family ~ Julia, Jim & Grace ~ lived down the street from me. I'd like to meet them. I'd like to know their secrets for growing such stunning azaleas out in the yard.

Yes, a life ended in an odd, sad way just a few months ago. But I'm hoping that I can keep Gracey going for a good long while.



quilly said...

Kalanchoe -- the botanist who lives at my house says, "It's a succulent, it's easy to save." He also said the "leggy" part of the plant that is all stem, will never again grow leaves and you might want to cut the green part off, let the plant air dry for a couple of days -- the wound has to heal or the plant will rot -- then replant the green parts and start over.

He said you can care for this exactly the way you would a Jade plant. Do not over water!

Vodka Logic said...

Almost looks like a geranium. I would have thought Jade until I saw the serrated leaves. I hope you get it to thrive.

Amy said...

Not a clue on the plant name, but I'm fascinated by the idea of how you acquired the plant. I feel like there's a short story or something in there somewhere.

Raising Z said...

I myself have a brown thumb so I can not help you with the id of the plant (even though I took 3 semesters of Botany) but your story was beautiful. I love that you named the plant "Gracey". Thanks for stopping by today and for your advice on my blog name!

knit1kids4 said...

beautiful story... and glad someone seems to know what it is. All I knew was that it is a succulent.

Veronica Lee said...

Beautiful story! Thanks for visiting my blog.

Tracy P. said...

I love that you named it Gracie. Keep us posted!

Alicia said...

i'm no help with the plant itself, but that my dear was a beautiful story....and how sweet of you to take in gracie as your own...i hope she thrives!

Dr.John said...

Never was any good at plant identification. Very nice story

Susie said...

What a neat story!! I think quilly is probably on the right track. I don't have many succulents in my house so, I don't have any advice to add.

Life with Kaishon said...

I don't know what it is. I love this story though. It is so sweet. I am sorry about this tragic loss of someone who was losing hope. Hope is such a terrible thing to lose.

kyslp said...

Yes, I agree with Amy. There is a short story waiting to be finished. I know nothing about plants. I do know that your piece was beautiful.

Miss Angie said...

Aww, that is so sweet of you to take the plant. This was beautifully written, and I think it really makes you feel the emotion in it!

Yaya said...

What a lovely story. I hope Gracey thrives in your home.


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