I am truly blessed to have moved into such a nurturing neighborhood. My old house was on a busy street and I was younger than most of my neighbors who had already raised their children. I was a single parent and felt judged by some of them, but now wonder if that wasn’t partly my inherent distrust of the ‘establishment.’
I moved into my current house in May of 2006 and was promptly greeted by a tiny, elderly woman about 87 years old. She introduced herself (Jean) and told me about a group of single, widowed and/or divorced women who got together on holidays and birthdays to share a meal. I was invited to join them on Memorial Day and am so glad that I did.
Jean passed on in 2009 leaving me fully in charge of the stray cat she fed and provided a heated garage for. Today, that cat sleeps on my bed since I don’t have a garage. Jean named her Gypsy and it’s still appropriate.
The cast of characters in our little group is: Kay (ageless), Margaret (91), Martha (73) and Sonya (74) and sometimes Rachel (ageless). I am the baby of the group at 62. We go to Taco Bell on Thursday nights … Margaret’s choice. Do I go for the food? Nope! I rarely eat anything and when I do it’s just beans without cheese. I go for the company and the good feeling I get when I spend time with my friends.
We learn so much from each other! I begin to move at a slower, friendlier pace and they get a little insight into the world of Facebook style communication. They give me flowers to plant (I’m certain they pray they’ll live.) and I hook up their televisions or figure out what’s going on with their phone. When I had my hip replaced they brought me food and went to the store. When Sonya dislocated her shoulder, I took her to the hospital, Martha took her to doctor appointments and we all got her groceries. We sing a song of thanks before we break bread at our birthday get togethers. It’s a very comfortable, warm place to be.
Another neighbor is closer to my age and also single but doesn’t often take part in the group activities. It’s been in the last year that we’ve connected and I am thrilled! We go to movies and out to dinner, we ran errands together the other day. She is a gardener and gives me perennials when she thins them out. She came over and helped me plant all of my new shrubs and replant the coral bells and dianthus that had been removed when they poured my new driveway and sidewalk. (I’m certain she did it for the plants’ sake!)
The neighbors up and down my street are all known by name and when I walk the dog we stop and chat as we make our way down the street. The neighborhood is getting some younger people: Ashley with her 10-year-old daughter and Jennifer, who moved into Jean’s old house, just had a lovely baby boy. There are new neighbors with a 13ish-year-old boy.
I know most of the dogs’ names on the whole block and if I don’t know them, I make one up! There’s Oliver and Bella, Riley, Rosco, Leaping Labrador and Squeaky Dog. There’s Casey, Cinnamon and Benny. Who can forget Spot, Spot and Spot, the three Dalmatians and Molly, the newest member who might be the oldest member. Zeker and Pattiane walk with Mikey the Wonder Dog and me. We let their mom, Sonya, join. Bella, a little Shih Tzu hears us coming, runs to the front door and stands up on her hind feet, pawing at the door. Of course, she’s my favorite!
This is my neighborhood … I am blessed. If you don’t have a warm, friendly neighborhood, do you see something in what we have that you could begin doing? Sharing plants? Hosting a neighborhood Potluck? Or start small and go for a daily walk, smile and say hello. Before you know it, it’ll take you forever to make it back to your house because you’ll be stopping and chatting just like me!