July 30, 2013

What I Learned While Watering My Neighbor's Flowers


Our neighbor, Marianne, was visiting family this past week, and I tended to her flowers & hummingbirds while she was away.  (One of her lilies, above.) 
Daily, I went over to spend quiet time carrying water here & there from her rain barrel to her many potted plants about her yard.  I spent significantly more time deadheading - something I've noticed she doesn't have much patience for anymore at 94.  
I found that taking care of Marianne's flowers is more fun than caring for my own.  There was the added anticipation of creating a happy surprise for her.  I was so excited for her to see her petunia boxes, overflowing with blooms when she returned home.

I share this in no way seeking a pat on the back.  Having Marianne as our neighbor & just knowing her family is reward beyond anything we could ever do for her.
I'm sharing because I benefited more than her flowers or hummingbirds did this past week. 
 
I'm reminded of one of my favorite Frog & Toad stories.  (Frog & Toad cover the best lessons in life - in a way I adore. They are children's books, but adults can appreciate them just as much, if not more.  You should read them.)
The story I'm thinking of is from Frog & Toad All Year, titled "The Surprise." 
The general idea is that happiness comes from the act of doing.. and that it's better to give than to receive.  
Frog & Toad decide, separately & secretly, to rake each others leaves, as a surprise to one another.  They go about sneaking over to eachother's  house, where they work hard & feel excited about the surprise that their efforts will give.  Then they go home, extremely satisfied with the secret deed they've done for their friend.
While they are each on their way home through different routes through the woods & tall grass, a wind comes & blows all the leaves that they had raked everywhere.
They each get home, see the mess of leaves, and say, "Tomorrow I will clean up my own leaves.  How surprised my friend must be!"  And they go to sleep happy & filled with contentment.. both still will messy yards.  (The End.)
It's the feeling of doing & giving that made their own hearts content.
  
Doing simple, thoughtful things for someone you care about is rewarding. 
Even if a storm had come, and blown all of Marianne's blooms into a mess, the time I spent caring for them was quality time that I enjoyed thoroughly & benefited from.    
Lilly & Beau got in on the enthusiasm, toting watering buckets around too.  The joy was contagious.

If laughter is the best medicine like they say it is, then maybe watering your neighbors flowers, or doing small or unknown things for someone, is like a small feast of nourishment for our well being. 

And the wonderful thing is - we can help yourself to as much as we'd like. 

“It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sharing with  Tuesday Muse   NF Blo-Ma  

24 comments:

  1. Your photo is gorgeous. When I graduated from high school my Mom gave me a beautiful pen and my first hard covered book called 'Try Giving Yourself Away' by David Dunn, first printed in 1946 with added additions in the decades following-pretty much a Frog and Toad book-I learned about watering neighbours plants through this book and the deeds as you know are endless and rewarding, lovely post Amanda. Both your family and Marianne are lucky you've each other, 94 year old's are treasures!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wonderfully expressed and so very true! Although it is also nice anticipating and hearing of their appreciation (even if they don't know who has secretly blessed them).

    ReplyDelete
  3. A beautiful post .... and an exquisite image!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Everything about this post is beautiful, Amanda!

    ReplyDelete
  5. really, really sweet. thanks for the uplift today.

    ReplyDelete
  6. It was lovely to read your post. And your photo of the lily is so pretty.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Love the photo - the textures really highlight the flower's beauty. What a good neighbor you are! And I agree, it's very satisfying to help someone.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Such a heartfelt post....Your shot is awesome..

    ReplyDelete
  9. This is so beautiful! I really enjoyed that story. And I know it is true - I always feel so fulfilled after doing something to help out someone else. It really does bring me joy!

    ReplyDelete
  10. This is a beautiful post and you are so right..I try to make one person smile a day by paying a compliment to the lady behind me at the check out, or smiling at a grumpy old man etc.And people respond and might even start to talk...that is my reward! And your picture is great !

    ReplyDelete
  11. Hi Amanda!! Lovely shot of the lily, good texture, too!!

    Thanks for your thoughts on 'giving'. Something I wholeheartedly agree with you on.

    ReplyDelete
  12. You have your priorities straight! notice you also have a writing gift:)

    ReplyDelete
  13. I think you have beautifully characterized my spouses whole approach to life. She is almost a caregiver for an entire community in official and unofficial ways and somewhat of a reminder of my own shortcomings.

    ReplyDelete
  14. A timely reminder, beautifully written Amanda.

    Giving rather than receiving has always been something I've tried to achieve.

    Gorgeous lily thanks to Marianne and you!

    ReplyDelete
  15. This is just perfect and I wish more people understood the simple truths of service. You have captured the heart of the matter perfectly. I love Frog and Toad, too. Such sweet books.

    ReplyDelete
  16. What a sweet post, Amanda. And filled with things to remember, for me especially at this time of my life when I might forget to pass along a kindness now and then. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  17. Thanks for sharing the Frog and Toad story with us -- it contains a great lesson for all of us. I'm sure Marianne will be delighted when she returns home.

    ReplyDelete
  18. What a beautiful lily. So dreamy looking. I really enjoyed your thoughts behind it too.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Such a gorgeous image!!!

    ReplyDelete
  20. Lovely flower and beautiful writing! You're right. It wouldn't matter what happened to the flowers. It's in caring for your neighbor that life has value. Oh --and I do love the texture you used on the flower!

    ReplyDelete
  21. Lovely post...love the texture on the flower photo

    ReplyDelete
  22. So true about giving and doing. Lovely post by a lovely soul. xo

    ReplyDelete