Bubble Talk: Digging into a simple act of kindness

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Bubble Talk: Digging into a simple act of kindness

Sometimes I have brilliant ideas. I get excited about them and often can’t wait to share them with my clients.
A few years ago, my client Roz asked me to plant marigolds on a small patch of land next to the entrance of her townhouse. It was a tiny space filled with old rocky soil.

She was in her late 80s and her vision was compromised. She navigated without a cane because she could still see – just not that well.

I stopped at Home Depot to see if they had any small raised flowerbeds. My great idea was to plant the flowers at a higher level so that she could see them up close.
I found a raised bed on sale. I bought marigolds and some other annuals (in my mind, she needed a variety of flowers – not just marigolds). I showed up at her place and couldn’t wait to open my trunk to present what I had gathered.

Looking back, she wasn’t as excited as I was about the container and the other flowers. We planted everything and as I admired the garden, she said, “What about putting marigolds over there?” Over there meant where she originally wanted to plant them.
I overstepped. I was so wrapped up in trying to be brilliant, it didn’t occur to me to just do what she had asked. It was a simple request and I had to make it more complicated. (The story of my life.)

Roz was clear about what she wanted. I planted yellow and orange marigolds in the ground and she loved them.

I also bought a hanging geranium (there was a place to hang it – even though she didn’t ask for that, either). One day while I watered it, I noticed a nest filled with eggs in the container.

We watched those eggs when the mother bird was away. We saw the tiny hungry chicks and checked on them daily until they flew away.

The next year, I bought annuals for the raised bed (for me), marigolds (for Roz), and a geranium for both of us. A few weeks into the summer there was another nest for us to kvell over.
Why did I make such a big megillah about Roz’s marigolds? Did I do it for Roz or was it for me? Sometimes I have to remove myself from what I perceive to be a bigger need or want. I’ve realized that every interaction doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. Maybe some do but most don’t. What’s most important in all of my relationships is understanding and kindness: Gemilut Chassidim.

Carolyn Schultz Eggert writes from Newton. She has been working to improve the lives of older people for 10 years through her business, Family Friends Boston. Previously she was a reporter for People magazine. Questions? Please email her at Carolyneggert@yahoo.com.

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