After moving here in April, I quickly developed a fondness for my neighbor. Whenever I see her, she greets me with a thumps up, a warm smile, rapid fire Chinese, and a sweet little chant: "Lucky, lucky, lucky!"-- seemingly the only English word she knows. I have often had the joy of watching her from my balcony window as she walks about her garden, lovingly tending to rows of crab apples, dragon fruit, and cacti. The backyard is something really endearing and special to me; with it's unkempt charm, overgrown with memories, it's more like a place I've traveled far away to then any yard I've hung out in LA.
This week they began gutting her house. I was glad to learn from her granddaughter that she and her husband were ok, and had moved in with one of their children since they were needing more care. Today, the next door neighbor came over while I was in the driveway to talk to me about it, noticeably sad. He told me they were neighbors for the past 30 years; in that time often going into each other's houses as if they were family. He said he wanted to get her new address so that he could stay in touch. Just an hour later, I looked out my window to see that she had come back with her children. She walked about her garden, touching everything, I think saying goodbye. The neighbor saw her and came to the fence. It's as if they have a language all of their own; some Spanish, some Chinese, and many tender hand motions. I felt very lucky to have witnessed it. It gave me a strong sense of connection to the neighborhood and community that existed here long before I moved in, and how quickly it is changing.
I have been feeling weepy and sentimental all day since, which makes me feel pretty silly. I didn't know her very long or very well, but she has a special kindness and way about her that I will really miss. Watching her say goodbye also reminded me of my own grandparents when they left their beloved house, and of my own family when we left our home of 25 years. So cheers to Mrs. Wing Wong, to her ability to connect deeply with others despite language barriers, and to the magic garden she's leaving behind 💕🌾✨