I had an article written and as happens in life a precious hand came in and told me to put that article in my documents file for another time because there was something else I needed to say. Seven years ago when we first bought this house, I was in our backyard surveying the mess that it was and I heard a rather stern voice say…”Do you mind if I ask what you are doing back there?” I looked up to see a perfectly coifed, well dressed older lady standing at the back fence adjoining the house catty-corner to me. I walked over to her, introduced myself and told her we had just purchased the house. I watched as she relaxed only slightly as she explained the house had recently been rented to less than desirable tenants. I gave her my melon mouth smile and told her I was a neat freak and planned to redo everything from top to bottom. I suppose knowing I hated dirt was enough to make her happy and she smiled back with the warmest smile and told me her name was Una Mae Hyatt…it was the beginning of a long and amazing friendship.
Harold was still working back then and so most of the remodel fell on my shoulders and that often meant fifteen hour work days. I would lose track of time but the phone would ring and a familiar voice would say…”meet me at the back fence.” I would walk out the back and there would be Una Mae standing out there with a container of food, worried because I wasn’t eating or taking care of myself properly. She told me time and again I was running myself into the ground and needed to not work so hard. I would smile and nod but I didn’t yet have a kitchen, or floors down, or all the rooms painted and I was an army of one! I have to admit she made a pretty fair argument that if I killed myself trying to get it done then I would never actually get it finished or enjoy the fruits of my labor. She made me promise to take a break and come learn to play Hand and Foot…I did.
I can still picture sitting around the table playing, laughing and having so much fun that I never even realized so many hours had slipped by. I saw a different side of Una Mae because she would partner with her friend, Bob, and they would be out to win and she would study the cards and make mincemeat of me. I loved, loved, loved it! We played on several occasions and not once did I ever think those afternoons were a waste of time or lament about what I should be doing.
One of my favorite things to do was to cook and bring Una Mae things from my kitchen because she had been so thoughtful of me in those early days. Granted, my cooking style was a little less conventional but she never complained and she loved all the sweets I made. What I am sure is true is that whatever I brought she shared with others. She was like a warm cup of life and love that brought understanding, help, grace, beauty and warmth to this world. She and I often talked about our soft hearts and she hugged me tight once and told me not to let the hurt and anger of others destroy the tenderness of mine. I may never find another friend who understood so well.
Una Mae Hyatt was all about caring. She spent her entire life giving to other people. There are lots of people who talk the talk but Una Mae did so much more than that…she blazed the path. Knowing her, loving her, spending time with her, was an honor, a privilege, a joy and I was so very lucky to have had these last seven years and because I did she will never be gone but live on right here in my heart. Thank you so much, Una Mae, for everything…I love you! Your friend, your neighbor…Lindy