Today, my neighbor paid me a visit. From over the fence, she mentioned how she’d love to see my garden, as she is an avid gardener herself. Once coming into my back yard, I realized quickly, her visit was more about things she wanted to tell me, versus actually spending any time looking at my vegetables. The wisdom that came from this brief, unexpected, yet profound visit, left me walking slowly around my yard, looking at my children’s sweet faces, with a new understanding of life in general: The grass isn’t always greener.
She is Lithuanian. She’s a mother to three grown children, grandmother to several and wife to my Ubber-American next door neighbor, which we affectionately call, Mr. Harry. She began to tell me about how blessed I was with my crew of five kiddos mingling about the playset. She talked about her children, where they all live, and the state of many people in her hometown in Lithuania. She told about rampant alcoholism, where parents keep having more children to gain more welfare payments from the government, to support this alcoholic disease. She spoke of many families living in squalor, having sold the family home out of desperation.
In her broken English, she pointed at my children, and then stated how so many little ones in her hometown were unkept, covered in filth and when she turned her gaze to me, her face showed such sadness, such frustration over all she told me. She put her arm around my waist, in such a motherly fashion, squeezed tightly, and told me, “YOU are a great mother.”
Instinctively, I looked to the grass unsure of how to proceed, and muttered something like, “We all have our good and bad days.” She laughed, and stated how I didn’t know how bad it can really get.
She then went on to tell me how blessed I should feel with the husband I have. She told of her first husband, an abusive, threatening alcoholic, who in her words, was “very handsome, but not a good man.” She pointed to her house, said, “Mr. Harry, he’s a very, very good man.”
I nodded, having known her husband for many years, a very sociable, elderly man, extremely generous and a kind soul. She said it again, “He’s a very good man. Not so handsome, but a good man is more important, no?”
I agreed. It’s a truth. You never know the inside of a man, just by looking at him. My mind turned to my Hero Husband. Somehow, in God’s goodness, He chose to give me the best of both worlds….a handsome husband and a very good man….all in one.
Lastly, she hugged me again, even in the sweltering heat of this summer day, and told me how she has hopes for me and our family. She said, “Not for now. I don’t hope for now. I hope for all time. Forever, dear girl, you have this kind of family.”
We said our good byes over the fence, after having walked through my back yard, and with brief comments on my tomato plants and green beans, she left her mark on my melancholic mind.
Sometimes, we think the grass is greener somewhere else, with a different life, different location, different friends and so on. Honestly, I had struggled with this temptation for awhile now, and my honest, friendly neighbor was right where she needed to be, at the right moment for me to hear a hard truth. Life may be easy right now, it might be tough, but it shouldn’t be traded for someone else’s. Think long and hard if I, you, could actually handle the crosses of someone else. God made my cross just my size, perfectly suited to me, and in the times that I turn my gaze in some kind of weak jealous moment, I’ll think of my neighbor, who gave me a vision of someone else’s life….a hard life, lonely, destructive and abusive. I’ll count my blessings, each one of them, my five children, my handsome, good husband, his job, my warm bed, my running water.
My neighbor saw our raspberry bush upon leaving the garden area, and mentioned how it’s one of her favorites. How to repay the kindness she showed me today? There is no way. But come high summer, when the raspberries are at their sweetest, I hope a big bowl full of the small berry will give her a bit of joy in thanksgiving for her few, precious minutes of priceless wisdom outside today. God bless her and love her. True to any mother, her timing was impeccable to teach a life lesson to this un-expecting, young American Mom: The grass isn’t always greener.
Copyright 2011 Sahmatwork
About the Author
We welcome guest contributors who graciously volunteer their writing for our readers. Please support our guest writers by visiting their sites, purchasing their work, and leaving comments to thank them for sharing their gifts here on CatholicMom.com. To inquire about serving as a guest contributor, contact editor@CatholicMom.com.