Mrs. Capotosto

It takes a village to raise a family. Isn’t that how the saying goes? Those nostalgic days of yesteryear. When neighbors were neighbors – not just people that existed in nearby houses. I remember when all the children in my neighborhood banded together in herds… we played manhunt and tag, rode our bikes as playing cards smacked revolving spokes. The bigger kids {aka me} gave airplane rides and piggyback rides. We caught fireflies at dusk, and rescued wayward baby birds by day… kittens too. Dogs required no fencing. The trafficless streets were our romping grounds.

I am happy to be able to say that I still keep in touch with some of the people that graced my childhood days.  Some I interact with often, some not so much… Regardless, each has gifted me with memories and tales, that to this day as I transcend time, I remember… I remember, and my spirit smiles.

 

One such person, was Mrs. Capotosto.  The boy next door’s Grandmother… only they lived around the corner.  To this day my mother remembers her fondly –  gentle and calm, stable and family oriented, and helpful.  She helped take care of my sisters and I when my mother needed the extra hand.

Mrs. Capotosto

It surprised me to learn that I was only ten when Mrs. Capotosto passed.  {This means my memories are more than 40 years old! How does that happen?} 

Wasn’t it yesterday, when I stood in her driveway as she handed me a treat? A bright and colorful sugary sweet, one I had never seen. I asked her if she made it herself, because of course she was that crafty… she smiled trying not to giggle. I hurried ran home to show my mom this ‘gift,’ thinking she must not have known these existed… because she surely would have bought my sisters and I some of our very own…{Not}  Shortly after I spotted them during a supermarket excursion – can you believe that those pretty candies were purposely not bought?! – – oh the horror... {This fell into the sugar-coated cereal category = Mom Rules: Nothing ingested that makes your child act insane, a.k.a. Sugar High.}

I had that candy one time in my life, thanks to Mrs. Capotosto {Okay twice… I bought it years later just to ‘connect’ with my youth-filled memories and as a sort of cosmic homage to Mrs. C.} 

 

Another colorful driveway ‘gift’ I remember, was actually intended for the garbage can.  This one proved much longer lasting than the candy, and far better suited for overall health.   

I came upon Mrs. Capotosto as she was tending to the greenery along the edge of the same driveway.  She held a fist full of weeds in one hand, and in the other, a twig… covered in fuzzy, fluffy, bubble gum pink pom-pom’s.  I was mesmerized by the delicate, ever so dainty blooms.  As she worked, her hand shifted around, and I wondered if the swaying movements would send pink flying… like the plume of white, seed-carrying parachutes that float off young wishful botanist breaths everywhere. 5258720386_b186f17b19_z

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Mimosa fuzzies…

They didn’t… The pink held fast… as did my attention.  To think this was real {It appears, I didn’t get out much as a child… 😉 }

Seeing my interest she – in the literal twinkling of an eye – turned her trash into treasure.  Holding the branch out, she asked, “Do you want it?”

‘Really?!’  She might as well have handed me an heirloom. {That’s me I’ve always gotten moved by nature.  Still do to this day.}

Surveying her face, to see if she was really okay with my taking her beautiful branch… as she smiled trying not to giggle,  extending her reach further, “Maybe you can put it in some water and the flowers will last for a while.”

“Oh?!!”  I hadn’t thought of that option, and with that in mind I took the gift and ran all the way home.  I had to get to my Mom quick… she was the Guru of Gardening!  {Still is…}

Pretty much every childhood memory I have involves Mom gardening.  My sisters and I would ‘wander’ the yard as she weeded, and planted, and connected – authentically – with the earth.

Lisa, Nancy (me), Barbara, and Mrs. Capotosto ;)

Lisa, Nancy (me), Barbara
…and Mrs. Capotosto

However, on this rare occasion, Dad was in the middle of the rock garden, kneeling dead center between the boulders and Mom’s array of flowers. “Look!” I showed him my new prized possession, “Where’s Mom?!”  He took it from my hand, and inspected the interesting fuzzies with me. I rambled on about what Mrs. Capotosto said, and how she gave me this magnificent, oh-so-pretty gift.

He looked at me the same way Mrs. C did… smiling… trying not to giggle… then hammer fist-punched the cut sturdy end of the branch into the earth.  “There!”  I watched him, as he worked it deeper and deeper.  He piled and scooped a mini-mountain of soil around its base to ensure support.  “Mrs. Capotosto!”

I didn’t know what to think?!  This was MY ‘gift?!’  I ran to get my mom – dragged her out of the kitchen, away from her dinnertime task, to show her. {and no doubt, rat Dad out…}  She was just as thrilled with it’s beauty.  Assuring me that we would take care of it… provide it with a happy new home…   Everyday Mom would hand me a giant pitcher of water – the one she used to make Kool-aid (aka ‘bug juice’) in – and instructed me to, “Go feed Mrs. Capotosto…” a reminder that became one of my happier chores, and ensured ‘Mrs. Capotosto’s’ survival.

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Kim, Lois, Diane & goofy Barbara

Rock Garden 201

Barbara

It was a family affair… Mrs. Capotosto, oblivious to the magnitude of her offering, set in motion years of accolade and cemented herself in our Family Tree.   

Amidst the boulders, ‘Mrs. Capotosto’ grew… long after Mrs. Capotosto passed.  We climbed her supportive limbs, laughed and played under her shady protection, reveled in her glory when the pink fuzzies were in bloom. 

Our yard was enveloped in sweetness, the aroma was so light and delicate.  Any breeze would set the garden magical… the pink warm fuzzy tufts… dancing, sharing their delicate tantalizing bouquet with the world.  (Okay, maybe just our backyard… 😉 

I never got to display my ‘gift’ on the kitchen table that long ago day…  That’s okay.  It was merely the tip of a branch… now… the tip of a much sweeter, more vibrant memory.