It actually hurts.
In the back of her corner property in Frankford she'd planted a tidy little vegetable garden, which is near harvest. Many of the peppers are ripe; the plump tomatoes need about a week to redden. In the middle of the patch sits an overturned plastic milk crate, where Dorothy sat while she weeded the squash plants, which are flowering.
What will become of her long, pretty yard, now that she's gone? Who will water her velvety red coleus, which line the trim walkway alongside the shady side porch? Who will deadhead the potted petunias - where she stored a yellow-handled trowel, scoop-side down, among the purple blossoms?
What will become of the floral, gardening flip-flops she kept next to the steps on the back patio? The tiki torches she stored in the shed for the next back- yard extravaganza? The serious-looking grill, the huge umbrella, the portable, screened gazebo, whose open side fluttered in yesterday's morning breeze?
The property showed so much evidence of life in motion, it was surreal to know that Flora, 54 - along with her 25-year-old son, Shane Ferguson - were murdered on Sunday morning inside the house at Leiper and Arrott.
Police yesterday arrested Flora's live-in boyfriend, Ron Larkin, 38, for the murders. Two neighbors told me that they heard loud arguing just before they heard the crack of bullets breaking glass.
Was that all it took to extinguish the life that brought such exuberance to this corner of Frankford? A stupid argument?
"We called her Grandmom," said Jalissa Sweet, 21, weeping as she placed a candle and a flower yesterday on the makeshift, altar-like memorial that leans against the stone wall separating Flora's yard from Arrott Street. "She was nice in every way. She would help anyone. She watched my son while I was in school."
Sweet's friend Tyisha Charles, also 21, sat on the wide porch, looking shellshocked as Flora's shiny mobiles caught the light. A few years back, Charles had dated Ferguson, Flora's son. Even though they didn't work out as a couple, they remained close - because, like his mom, Ferguson remained close to almost everyone he ever knew.
"I just saw him two days ago," Charles said, staring. "This can't be real. He was so goofy and happy. He helped us out when my aunt died. He got me through it.
"It can't be real," she repeated.
Sadly, several residents who live on the block say that they're not surprised that violence has again visited the neighborhood.
"We won't let our kids go outside to play," said one mother, who asked not to be identified. In the year that she has lived on Leiper, she and her husband have become accustomed to seeing cops chase suspects through the back yards, while a police chopper whirls overhead, its searchlight cast downward. "We hear fights and gunshots," she said.
And neighbor Patricia Plybon ("I don't give my age," she demurred) ticked off the scary things that have happened in her neighborhood in the nine years she's lived in an apartment building near Flora's house: a body found in a bag; the shooting of a pizza deliveryman; the shooting of a young boy; violence outside the former Frankford Hospital nearby.
"Dorothy was nothing like that, though," she said of Flora. "She had barbecues and music. Her garden was marvelous. She was out there every day, pulling weeds and watering. I complimented her on it all the time."
Flora also would clean the whole corner with her broom and a hose, said the anonymous neighbor.
"A lot of people, you know them because of what they're up to - the bad stuff. With her, she just had nice gatherings and seemed responsible and friendly. She was the kind of neighbor you want to have on your block."
The kind of neighbor whose garden is adorned with two plaques. In curly script, one reads: "Friends are the sunshine of life." The other: "With God all things are possible."
So much evidence of life and love - now gone - in one corner of Eden.
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