Mabel, The Petunia Lady
The grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of our God endures forever. Isaiah 40:8
Years ago my family moved into a rental house we found while on the way to the circus. We had a new baby only a month old and the opportunity arose to move into a much bigger house. The old Victorian house had high ceilings, walk in closets and a real cast iron bathtub with claw feet. The rooms were huge.
And while the house was exactly what we needed on the inside, it was not on the outside. It sat on a half lot which meant we had a small front yard and an almost non-existent back yard. But what the yard lacked in size, it made up for in neighbors. Crowded in as we were, we became acquainted with folks quite fast.
To the south, Molly and her children, Ashley and Josh, are still good friends to this day. To the north were Bryan and Becky and their two daughters. And to the west was Mabel, the flower lady.
Mabel went on to be with the Lord years ago but she was not only our neighbor but church family to us for many years.
She lived in a carriage house next to an alley. I was never invited inside her house but it appeared to be one or two rooms on the ground level and perhaps a bedroom upstairs. Yes, it was a quaint little two-story house with no grounds at all. While we had the tiniest of yards, Mabel had none.
Silvery hair curling slightly, Mabel was always pleasant. We enjoyed our neighborly chats across the fence. Now, do I remember what we talked about 21 years ago? No, I do not. What I do remember is that I liked Mabel and she was a hoot. (Translated fun!) Mabel was probably close to 80 at that time.
In our little church we had a pastor who brought a white plastic bank in the shape of an old-fashioned church with steeple. On our birthdays we would go forward and in front of the congregation drop enough change in the bank for our age. On Mabel’s 80th birthday, she brought 80 pennies. And then we sang "Happy Birthday" to her.
Lately, I've had time to ponder life and the many people who cross our paths. I'm grateful for Mabel, the flower lady. Even though the memories I've just written are pleasant, the best one is of her petunias.
Since she had no garden space to plant, Mabel made the best of the worst-case scenario. She planted her flowers with care in the cracks of the pavement that surrounded her carriage home. Yes, she grew the most beautiful petunias in cracks of cement.
I remember the first time I saw them growing in abundance, full of life and color. I was shocked! And amazed. How can flowers grow so beautiful in such harsh conditions? But force life and color from hard rock cement Mabel did.
And isn't that a bit like real life? God takes us who are simply lumps of clay. He forces life and color from what could have otherwise been plain hard rock cement.
ABW Colorado, President