I attended the visitation and grave-side funeral for my parent’s long time neighbor, who I’ll call “Mrs. Green”. For over 50 years, she’s lived just a couple doors down at the end of Dad’s street. While my intention was to pay tribute to Mrs. Green and support the family, I had no idea I would also be receiving inspiration and a shot of….joy.
Not what I was expecting to experience at a funeral. But that’s what happened. You see, Mrs. Green was different.
She was a little thing who worked for many years in public service as part of a local government office. She loved to golf, entertain friends, sing in the church choir and spend countless hours in her beautiful rose garden. She was sweet to all the neighborhood kids, visited sick neighbors and supported local charities.
Sounds like a lot of nice little old ladies, right? Nope. She was different.
She wasn’t an “I’m doing this thing because it looks good” or “I have to be nice or I’m going to hell” kinda gal. She was genuine. She was kind. And she was always “smiling joy.”
She radiated joy.
I’m talking honest to God, sparkly-white-light-shining JOY.
Something struck me at the funeral as I heard various stories from family and friends about this lovely woman. Everyone mentioned the same things: she was always impeccably dressed with full make up and appropriate jewelry, she was healthy and active until the end; she kept a lovely home, was a masterful hostess and loved tending to her beautiful yard and magnificent rose garden. She was a steadfast friend and supportive, loving parent.
I suspected that Mrs. Green somehow knew something the rest of us didn’t.
It finally dawned on me. The love and respect she had for herself was what fueled the joy that was then reflected in her appearance, her health, her home, yard...in every aspect of her life. And that joy radiated to anyone else lucky enough to be in her world.
Mrs. Green was not a selfish person. I believe she simply understood we are all children of God and therefore deserving of love and respect. She was smart enough to understand we can’t give what we don’t have. So by creating a loving world for herself, she was able to share that joy with others. Many others.
She was a loving wife, mother, grandmother, friend…all because she must have known true love for others starts within our own heart. It starts by falling in love with the “spark of God” that is each one of us at our core.
WOW! Right in my own childhood neighborhood I’d discovered an example of the teachings I’d studied for years! Countless self-help books had discussed the practice I witnessed this lady live out as I’d observed her from the sidelines for over five decades.
After the service, I drove by Mrs. Green’s house and saw the manicured lawn, lush potted plants and the radiant rose garden. It was beautiful. It was a joy to behold.
As I drove by, I realized the roses had been her joyful gift to the neighborhood all these years. Her yard is a testament to the beauty of life, if we’re aware enough to see it.
I realized this must be how her inner joy blooms for all….