Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The New Neighbors

Although we have a full neighborhood behind us, our house is on a short street of 6 houses. Martha grew up in this house and knew the surrounding neighbors since childhood. When I first moved in, all the homes were occupied with the older folks she grew up with. Over the years many have died or moved in with children and we have experienced a full turnover of neighbors.

Directly across the street there was an elderly woman who we took care of - mowed her lawn, cleared her driveway of snow, etc. When she moved a 30ish couple moved in but the man (who was always outside smoking) would never say hello or wave. Cold, but we were relieved not to have double the yard work to do. The woman eventually divorced him and a new man moved in who was very friendly.  It was nice to have folks to wave to and greet at the mailbox. But recently they put the house up for sale to be closer to his work. We kept hoping that a young family might buy it and that we’d have some kids around for hire as we get older. But then we heard that an elderly lady with a walker bought it. Damn. But then it got worse.

Long time readers may remember back to when I was a church goer and received a letter from the church elders that I was no longer welcome at the church. Although they never gave me an opportunity to speak with them directly, I did hear rumored the problem was because the temporary female minister told them I was in love with her, or stalking her, or something like that.  A little delusional and gay panicky I know, but they gave me no opportunity to defend myself and so that ended that.

I see the wife of one of those elders often - walking her dogs, at the supermarket, etc. Every time she avoids me - changes directions, stares somewhere else, anything to avoid eye contact.  I see her often enough that it is obvious the cold shoulder is intentional.  

So, of course, it is her mother who moved in.

The first couple of days I watched as she made many trips with her van, unloading her mom’s stuff. Each time I tried to make eye contact because I hate to have negativity in my life and this was just juvenile.  And then one day I simply walked up to her and forced her to acknowledge me.

Surprisingly, she turned and hugged me as if we had been old friends for decades, just being reunited. She asked about Martha, she asked about the kids, she talked about having my girls in Sunday School (they thought she was a whack job). I helped carry in some boxes and she invited me to meet her mother. It was all very strange and very phony feeling.

But, it turns out her mom is a lovely person. She broke her neck and is in a brace and needs the walker. I gave her my phone number in case she needs anything and the other day I accompanied her on her  daily exercise walk around the block. I almost gagged when she went on about how great her son-in-law was. I wanted to ask, “oh the one who said I couldn’t even sit in the church sanctuary, alone,  during off hours for prayer?”  Last I remember a church was supposed to be God’s house, not an elder’s personal property.  Oh yeah, so very Christian of him.

So I have a new neighbor. Her children live close by so I don’t expect to have to do the yard work, but I will keep an eye out for her. She moved from a different area of the state and told me she doesn’t know her way around so I will try to invite her to go shopping or perhaps go on a Town tour. I will check up on her and walk with her, when I can,  on her excursions through the neighborhood for although I no longer consider myself a Christian, I do agree with the basic tenets of kindness and compassionate for all, something I see less and less of in organized religions.

And now I see the house behind me has sold and a new car is in the driveway. Time to go introduce myself. Would it be wrong to hope the new neighbor is a world class baker or chef?  

13 comments:

  1. You're very kind and gracious. I hope the new neighbor in the house behind you is a world class baker AND chef. Yep.

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    1. I have seen a young woman over there and will go introduce myself soon. Unfortunately, we have already "met" her dog who barks incessantly. *sigh*

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  2. I wish I had a neighbor as friendly and kind as you. Shocking story about the church elders.

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  3. Wow - hard to believe that people in such positions would behave that way - but we have lived through it too - I always say what goes around comes around...

    It would just be nice to be kind to one another... regardless...

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    1. Kindness costs nothing and is so easy. I don't understand why it seems to be disappearing from our culture. *sigh*

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  4. Oh, your heart must have sunk to your knees when you saw the daughter of the new owner. Ugh. Those people were so hateful and cruel to you. It would be easy to turn a blind eye (as the daughter has done for years) and give them the cold shoulder. You are so much better a person than any of them. I admire you, 8, for taking the high road.

    I would be tempted, when the mom starts talking about how great her son-in-law is, to just drop a little reality into the conversation. Not belabor the point, but just a casual, 'Oh, yes, I've met him. He kicked me and my family out of the church because I'm gay.' Just to take a little shine off that phoniness. You certainly don't have to agree with her when she starts talking about his supposed good qualities.

    You, my dear, are a very generous, kind and compassionate person. And, while I know that you are not keeping score, you won that round. Decisively.
    XOXOXOXOXOX

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    1. An expletive may have escaped my mouth when I saw her and her van pulling in.

      I am waiting for the daughter to return from vacation and thank me for watching over her mom in her absence. My response will be "it is the Christian thing to do, right?" Of course, I would never actually say that, but I can dream.

      At least the mother seems very gay friendly - had no problem with the notion of "my partner" and asked about "our" children. I think I will like my new neighbor very much. She's really very sweet.

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  5. I am often embarrassed by the behavior of my Christian tribe. I agree with e, you won that round. It reminds me of an expression I once read that said "you will never regret taking the high road."

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    1. I have not always been noble enough to take the high road, but you're right, I have always regretted it when I haven't. Of course, being kind to a sweet 85 year old, 90 pound lady with a broken neck and a walker is not exactly a challenge.

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  6. Kudos to you and your kind, generous spirit. Here's to hoping the other neighbor is indeed world class. ;-)

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  7. I have always been thankful for all the people who looked after my mom after my dad died. It's easy to pay that forward. We haven't met the other neighbor(s) yet but her barking dog is already irritating. We're hoping it is just an adjustment period.

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  8. This is a case where you were nicer than the neighbor's daughter deserved. But good for you. I say you are better off without that particular church.

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  9. You are an excellent neighbor and are showing Christian Love in Action even tho' you do not consider yourself a Witness of what God's Love via Christianity IS all about, or should be. I can relate to much of what you have endured in the form of Organized Religion... who is Welcome, who is not... we recently bought a New Home and moved into what I had hoped would be an idyllic community. It is filled with a great many Fundie Religious sorts who have passed their judgment especially upon my Gay Grandchild, who is also diagnosed with Serious Mental Illness... they shun him... yes, how very Christian of them... NOT! Pious and self-righteous behavior is never pretty... nor is it Godly. Just going to Church does not make one a Christian any more than wearing a string of Pearls makes one an Oyster. Bravo to you for showing a Beautiful Spirit towards this new neighbor despite the History behind the back story of the 'coincidence' of who she happens to be related to. Blessings from the Arizona Desert... Dawn... The Bohemian

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