Published author, leadership and organizational development mentor, inspirational speaker, advocate for cold noses as healers Architecting a social movement of unconditional listening one voice, one story at a time
From the first warmth of Spring to the last frost of Fall, an array of colors in bloom, some low to the ground and others rising tall. Shared conversation about many a thing, while looking out the window frequently. This beautiful garden our centerpiece as she reminisced of her life to me. The garden forming before the walls of her home started to take shape, a dirt bed sanctuary for her special keepsakes.
My honor to not only meet this special soul, but a treasured part of this breathtaking garden would follow me home. I can still see her smile as she insisted I take a bouquet of my choosing and the feel of the garden scissors she handed me. Unable to join me for a stroll through her masterpiece, but from the door her gentle guidance of what I needed to see. My pause at a beautiful red and yellow flower brought a twinkle to her eye. “Have you ever seen one like that?” then her await of my reply. “I don’t think so” brought a further glow to her already joyful face. A flower she brought with her from Germany she went on to explain.
A wise teacher instructing how to cut each stem from the base so as not to injure this rarity. Then a gently wrap of each stem in a wet napkin that they would endure my travels safely. That when I got home they would be ready to stand in a vase as brilliantly as they did in their garden base. That each time I glanced at them I would remember one of the most treasured experiences I had this day. Her elegant blend of humility and pride wanted me to treasure the flower as she did too; that I would think of her with great fondness not what she expected me to do.
Our paths crossed with her knowing she wouldn’t see the blooms of Spring again, aware she was that her life journey was nearing its end. The original purpose for our intersection not something she wished to pursue; a written life story she decided she no longer wished to do. Perhaps I should better say the original intent not done, but purpose was still achieved. I was meant to have my heart and life imprinted from time shared with a soul as radiant as the garden she relished tending.
Each time I have the honor of meeting with someone where the timing of death is more known, I find myself in awe of the reflection of how their life did unfold. I relish seeing the connectivity, how one event was preparation for what ahead wasn’t yet seen. I love to hear the gratitude and the immense love, how someone sees that abundance and blessings aren’t in ‘stuff’. I equally delight in all the ways I see how someone has touched many a life and what footprints they will leave; and I think to myself “what an incredible life, such an amazing legacy.”
And as part of the gift given to me, I pause and make sure I give time to think – am I doing all I can to make my footprints on my life journey the best steps they can be? How about your footprints, what imprint do they leave? What indents remain when you are no longer seen? As the expression states about someone being happier after time spent with someone else, would that be what others tell? Would someone you stood behind in a store walk away smiling when they walked out the door? Would someone watch you and see the lightness in the steps you take? Or would they ponder why you appear to be wearing a heavy heart today? Would someone be inspired or feel encouraged after hearing words you speak? Or would they see what “isn’t” and “can’t” and fill with negativity?
No matter the age we’ve lived or the perception of what we can do “someday”, every moment is the potential to leave our footprints along the way. It can be easier to hear how we need to make the most of each day because we aren’t given a guarantee, easier than the truth of these words being fully seized. The honor of time with this extraordinary gardener affirmed another truth; the essence of who we are repeatedly shows through. We learn, we grow, we evolve, and we change; but there are some core aspects that tend to remain.
Like a beautiful years old garden that I had the privilege of walking through on a late Spring day.
When the call came that there was a gift to receive, these words kept repeating within me. “Don’t shed a tear” a replay in my mind. Perhaps like the poem “Don’t Weep for Me” by Mary Elizabeth Frye. Her gratitude to all who aided her during her final months was payment one hundred twenty-five ways; the most elegant white roses to be divided among many a vase. Again, my honor for having my path meet this luminous soul one day a few months ago. And once again a treasure I would get to take home. Just as then, I am sure what she would want of my glance at these each time; to reflect more on the beauty of nature in these pearls of white. As then I will also glance and fondly remember a very special day; a day my life became more blessed by extraordinary grace.
In a few days, the soft petals will further unfold before letting go, their purpose then achieved. To have brought smiles, joy, appreciation, reminders of life’s blessings. Each precious bloom holding affirmation that we always receive far more than we give. And that there are very breathtaking ways to leave a final footprint.