Life often moves in cycles. This concept has been in my head for a few days. When my family moved to our longtime home in town, we were the second “young” family on our block. I was probably 7, my brother 11. Most of the other residents of our block were nearing retirement age or were already retired. Several houses down on our side of the street was the other “young” family who had moved in several months before we did.
I loved growing up on that block. I was a friendly kid, despite being painfully shy at times. My upbringing imprinted me with good manners and the ability to converse with older people. And I was a tomboy. Mostly I was kind of a quirky kid; you know, I was funny without trying to be funny. I was a favorite among the older neighbors. Maybe I was just a novelty but those people got a kick out of me.
Across the street lived a couple whose only son had been a Green Beret during the Vietnam era. His mother, a member of the DAR and the Mayflower Society, spoke of him ad nauseum. She also mentioned every five minutes that she was a member of the DAR and the Mayflower Society. Her husband was a jolly man who mowed the lawn in his dress shirt and tie. We kids referred to their lawn mower as the “crop duster” as it belched more oily smoke than I’d ever seen. However, the jolly husband also possessed a deep voice. Men with deep voices terrified me as a kid. So even though he might have qualified as Santa in the jolly looking department, I was terrified of this man. He could never figure out why. Did I mention his wife was a member of the DAR and the Mayflower Society? At any rate, I spent many an afternoon in the wife’s company, hearing the same stories told over and over and looking at photographs. My reward was meted out in cookies. That woman baked a mean cookie. If being kind meant cookies, I was all about being patient.
Now that I’ve been an adult for quite a while, I realize she was lonely. I think of her every time I make raspberry chocolate chip meringue cookies. It was her recipe. And I’m happy to say that I overcame my fear of her husband during my teenage years. When I was in college he became very ill. I visited him in the hospital and we had a great chat, his once resonant voice dulled to a whisper by throat cancer. What I took away from that visit was the memory of his sweet smile and how much he seemed to like me though I’d usually avoided him like the plague. And he thanked me for the many hours I spent listening to his wife. He winked at me and said, “I know it wasn’t just for the cookies.” Boy, had I underestimated him.
As I grew up on that block the cycle continued. Our older neighbors retired, moved away, or died. My mom remained in that house as she and the matriarch of the other “young” family became the elder stateswomen of the block. About ten years ago, the other gal moved. And now, my mom has moved. Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Guess who lives down the block where my mom just moved? Yep, you got it. They’re on the same block again, after it all began 53 years ago!
So, this post took on a whole different life than I intended. I started writing and my old neighbors came to visit. I’m glad they did. I learned a lot from them and I’d like to think they learned something from me.