Who has good neighbours? Do you even know who your neighbours are? Their family, their sorrows, their good times and rough patches?
My neighbour, Jean, is 91 years old now. I know that she loves her family. She worries about her great grandchildren as though they were in her direct care. She loves her daughters, misses her deceased husband, whose anniversary is the same day as my birthday. She puts on her favourite dress that day, bids me a happy birthday and then disappears, for the memories are sad for her, as though it happened yesterday.
Jean often waves me off to work. Some would call it intrusive. I cherish every time she opens her door and blows me a kiss. Considering my lovely Grandmother is no longer here, Jean is the Grandmother I don’t have. Today she gave me a posie from her garden to brighten my day at work.
Kicking a ball around with my two boys is something that she enjoys and she gets a naughty twinkle in her eye when she ushers them inside to give them a clandestine lolly. Her garden is amazing and she spends a lot of time pottering around in there, feeding birds.
Our neighbour on the other side is Val. Once she couldn’t breathe and she called us first, before anyone else. We stayed with her until the ambulance got there. Once my older son had to go to hospital. She looked after my smaller son in the blink of an eye, ushering me out the door before I could even finish my panicked entreaty to watch him while I went to the hospital. She’s in her mid 60’s and has just be diagnosed with Dementia. She forgets little things but I don’t mind jogging her memory. Now that she’s not quite herself, we get in and weed her garden and do the hedges for she has no ability to garden.
What are your neighbours like? What are their dreams? Do they like coffee or tea? Chocolate biccys or shortbread? Are they alone this Christmas? Have they had tradgedy in their lives, great sweeping sagas that might keep you enthralled over a bbq snag and a wine or two?
Why not find out?