I have a friend named Audley Bain. Audley and I have known each other since 1992, when we were introduced by the late Ralph Kaufman. Ralph and his wife, Dorothy, lived across the street from David and me during the winter months (they were “snow birds” from New York) when we lived in Lighthouse Point. Audley, or Button, as he is known to his family and friends, is a professional landscaper. He makes David’s and my yard a beautiful sanctuary, not only for us, but for butterflies, bees, and birds. (I am an avid butterfly gardener, as well as advocate of Florida friendly landscaping.) When David and I moved to our current home in 2013, we were approached by another landscaper who wanted our business and I politely told him that, until Button decides to retire, our only landscaper will be him. However, although Button is a landscaper and that’s how we met, this post is not about his work in my yard. Instead, this post is about Button, my friend. In the almost 30 years we have known each other, we have had more deep conversations than I have had with people whom I have known considerably longer. We discuss our shared love of 1970s muscle cars (he loved my Corvette!), our family woes (and there are lots of them for both of us), and societal issues, such as racism. We share the same political views and we often express our chagrin for people we perceive as close minded, particularly when it comes to the negative impact of racism on our society as a whole. Although I am often at work during the daytime when Button comes to my house, on the occasions when I’m home, I eagerly run outside to give Button a hug and see his smiling face. We have had long talks in the hot sunshine and in the sudden rainstorms that are common in south Florida. When I have friends visiting, I always introduce them to Button. My late Mom adored him and couldn’t wait for him to come over during her frequent visits to David’s and my home. I have learned a lot from Button and I think the feeling is mutual. Hats off to you, my friend!
Audley was at the house today. And, not a moment too soon, as it had been too long since he was there. In a Florida summer, the frequent rains wreak havoc with his plans to get to each of his customers’ yards on a timely basis. And, with those rains, the grass (and weeds) grow way too fast! Seeing Audley/Button work is a reminder of one way in which we office workers have it easy. There is no way I can imagine doing what he does in the heat, and often rain, day in and day out! A few hours in the yard on the weekend really kicks me pretty hard. He has a cool lawn mower to ride, but other than that, his job doesn’t look like fun to me. But, he shows a passion for it. I imagine that being able to see the before and after with every job he does is part of his reward – kind of like a hair dresser seeing the before and after with every client. I sure don’t want his job, but I am glad he does this for Melissa and me, so that we can do what we do. Unlike any other person we’ve had work for us, he’s become a true friend. Melissa spends more time with him than I do – I try not to keep him from his rounds. It has been fascinating to get to know him, his interests and his perspectives. We commiserate from time to time about business, specifically about getting good workers to be on our team. Or, we converse about politics or the news of the day. He is also very compassionate and concerned for me, for us, in recent years with the issues of my parents most recently. In a world where it is too easy to keep one’s distance and not to get to know the people who keep us going, I’m glad we have had the chance to get to know Button. Such connections enhance our lives.