Our next door neighbor passed away, last week. She was 104 years-old. Although everyone who knew Miss Grace would agree that she had indeed lived a full life and perhaps not be at all surprised by her passing, I can't help but feel sad, knowing that her house sits empty and looks even more abandoned than usual.
I still remember meeting Miss Grace for the first time. It was a few days after we moved in, I was pregnant with our oldest, I waddled down the small hill that separated our properties and asked if her dog bites.
She leaned forward in her lawn chair and answered, "Not if I don't go and tell her to."
It's then I learned that her dog Sheba was very old, probably had less teeth than Miss Grace (according to Miss Grace) and that she would be the last dog that Miss Grace would ever have to bury.
Needless to say, Miss Grace was indeed "a font of interesting anecdotes," to quote my friend Donna via Facebook.
So, forgive me if I begin to burp up a few stories and Miss Grace-isms, here and there, like the time she chased a couple of hooligans, who were bombing her house with pears, away from her pear tree...with her favorite rake.
Stories of Miss Grace are known to nearly every family to have settled in our town, having lived here all her life and the scourge of the neighborhood children...some 50 or so years earlier.
"I never did take no nevermind, to no youngins."
She raised her children and countless numbers of others of the families she worked for and, well, even my kids learned pretty early: you best be on your best behavior around Miss Grace, or risk a phone call home to your mother.
Most of all, Miss Grace will always be remembered as enjoying working in her yard. She mowed her own lawn up until her knees "turned bad" around the time she turned 100. True story. Still, it was ding-danged difficult to keep up with the woman.
Lawnmower Mom was my first published article, outside of this blog, back in 2004 and it too was inspired by Miss Grace, along with many more blog posts, some of my favorites being:
- Will You Still Read Me, When I'm 164?
- The House Next Door
- The House Next Door, Under Contract
- The House Next Door, The Appraisal
All that's left now is the house next door, which I am afraid will be razed to make room for many more (her property is even larger than ours) and I can't help but feel...well...sort of like I have just finished the last chapter of a very good novel.
Which reminds me, I once asked Miss Grace if she remembered the famous shark attacks, here in town! She did. I then questioned whether she knew that they also inspired Peter Benchley to write "Jaws".
Her response: "I never had me no time, for no books!"
She was too busy, living one. I wonder if I will ever stop looking for her, outside my kitchen window. Bless you, and your rake, Miss Grace.
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