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Donna's Journal
December 31, 2006

Years ago, when my children were small, I needed to drive daily past an elderly woman’s house. She lived on our busy 14th street, so it was, I saw her working in her yard on a daily basis. All the other houses along the street had nicely mown yards but hers was a place to stand out. When I first noticed she was not a young woman and as the days and years went by rather than a robust, gray-haired lady she became more frail and thinner; nevertheless, she continued. Her dedication to that work was an inspiration as I toiled with my own grinding battle to see my children educated, while being clean, and having good diets.

And then, one day, when one of my children was in high school I saw a “For-sale” sign on the lady’s yard. Later, as chance would have it, I was driving by when I saw grown children with the elderly woman. They were loading her along with luggage into the car. The tiny, frail person was stepping back and forth from her things as if she was checking to see if everything was there. Just for a moment she stopped and looked up, squarely at me. We didn’t know each other so how could she wave to me. For a bit, I felt remorse to think I had never stopped for a moment from my busy schedule just to say hello and visit for a while.

“ Never mind,” she seemed to be saying, “We’ll meet another time.”

Today, as I drive by her old home the yard is as clean and neat as all others. However, there are no flowers, no diligent little woman happily working while never being bothered with the busy traffic of her street. If she had been there, her concentration would have been unbroken as she arranged pots, pulled weeds, or dug to transplant.

Certainly, her spirit remains as an example. No matter how small a task, if the will is there to do it well; the effort will inspire someone. I often wonder, “How many others appreciated her work?”

Recently, for my part, I received a wonderful letter from a woman on my email list and I want to share a portion of it with you because it gave me so much encouragement to continue my two hours a day for community, self-appointed service, here at the computer because of the circumstances in which I live.

Here is the note:

“We are quickly entering the New Year and what it brings only God knows. I pray that your life that of all your family will be blessed with good health, prosperity, (otherwise known as wealth), and much more happiness. Your contribution to others this year has been a positive force in making their lives happy and I wish for you the best of everything in yours. God bless your authorship of the stories that have meant so much to those who’ve gone on and to family and friends who are reading them now. I’ve so enjoyed all the words and stories of your family, both past and present. Especially, the courage of Donna and her survival as such a very special daughter and mother has been a beautiful encouragement to others.

I don’t know if I ever told you of the beautiful letter she wrote to me. It was full of love and tenderness for you, and the pride which she felt at being your daughter.”

I told my family, “I’m printing this letter off, enlarging it, framing it to hang over my kitchen sink. It is just the thing I will need as I go into the next year, a bit more frail, as my elderly neighbor was, but hopefully bolstered up from the love shown in this thank you note.”

So too, let me remind anyone who has taken the moment to read this lengthy tribute to the last day of 2006. No matter how grinding, how trial peppered your work is, there will be someone who is looking on,
who will be inspired by your own efforts, just as I was inspired by the lonely but happy work of the little woman in the small space of her back yard.

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