It was with no small amount of trepidation that I called my Aunt Joan after Uncle Ralph died. I knew my Aunt had been diagnosed with dementia and I was worried about how far the disease had progressed and how my condolences would be received. I didn’t want to upset her. I was very relieved to find her quite lucid as she shared the details of Uncle Ralph’s last day. “He went out for a walk down the lane and across the field just like he did every day”, she said. I marveled at the image of my 94 year old Uncle, a farmer in his working years, walking along the country lane in the early morning sunshine. “He brought me back flowers just as he does most days. They’re just a bunch of weeds you know,” she chuckled. It was a short conversation, and after a few moments she abruptly handed the phone to one of her daughters saying – “please talk to this lady” having forgotten who I was.
That conversation happened a few years ago now, but it is one that I replay in my mind often. There are pearls of wisdom to ponder – so much expressed in just a few sentences. I can imagine that my Uncle’s daily walk outdoors helped him maintain his connection to the earth as well as keeping him physically active and strong. I share his love of walking and can only hope to be able to go for a walk in the country on my last day on this earth. The fact that he noticed the wildflowers demonstrates that he was mindfully observant during his time spent alone in nature – just as I try to do. I can imagine that it was difficult witnessing his wife’s decline and I am hopeful that the time spent on his own, caring for his mind and body helped him to cope with this stress. The choice to pick a bouquet and share the flowers’ simple beauty with the one he loved is a touching image I cherish. So often we look for grand gestures to demonstrate our love – but I think it is the small, beautiful moments that sometimes resonate the most. I do hope that my Aunt was able to hold on to the memory of this loving gesture and that it gave her pleasure throughout her remaining days.
My Uncle shared his appreciation of the wildflowers with his wife; she shared the experience with me and now I’m sharing the story with you. Years after his death, the reverberation of one man’s presence still being felt. You just never know where the ripple effects of your loving connected presence will go or who it will touch.
I have a complicated relationship with weeds – I’m frustrated when they grow in the garden and when they sprout up in the middle of the lawn. But like my Uncle Ralph, I also notice that some of these tenacious plants are quite beautiful swaying in the breeze when I am out on my own daily walk. So this summer, I have promised myself that I will pick and enjoy my own weed bouquets. It is my mindful, loving gift to myself. A visual reminder that love and beauty can be found in the simplest moments if we just take time to notice.
In Kindness, Patricia