Friday, October 16, 2009

There is a Season - for Perspective

Won't you come into the garden? I would like my roses to see you.

Richard Brinsley Sheridan

Today is a different day at my house. I awake and there is no need to open the blinds in my bedroom so my neighbor will know I am home. She no longer lives there.

Neighbors arrive in varying forms - those you wouldn’t know if you ran into them in the grocery store. Those to whom you send a friendly wave as you drive by. Those you share a greeting or story with now and then.

Then those for whom you know the intimate details; the stories of their life as well as their worries and triumphs.

Mrs. R was the latter. From the time we moved in twelve years ago, she has been a surrogate grandmother for our family, her husband also fulfilling the role of grandfather until he passed away a few years ago. My boys knew their house as a safe place, where help and love was always available. Helped to fill the void of their grandparents who lived far away.

The boys mowed their lawn and performed small chores. Mrs. R remembered their birthdays, celebrated their graduations, gave them hugs when they went off to school. Or hugged me when they went off to school. As I told each of my boys that Mrs. R was moving, they all responded with such surprise. I understood. A certain shelter no longer available.

Her moving only came about the past couple of weeks, although we knew the possiblity hung for the past year or so. Age has caught up with Mrs. R and at 83 has decided the house is too much. Granted, it is, but I still regret having to see the change – both in her and the moving. Now an apartment will provide her home, surrounded by a hundred more kindred in age only. Someone will cook all her meals. She will have someone available 24/7 to call for help. Bridge, bingo, field trips to keep her busy. Perhaps a welcome change from the never ending call of keeping a house and the loneliness living alone can bring.

Inevitable change -- an apt definition of life.

Makes me cognizant the life decisions our 17-year-old has before him are not so dire. That the extreme pressure to make choices about his future are not those that will cement him forever. His changes are only few of many to come in his lifetime. We are mistaken to approach his decisions as pertinent for all his future. Nothing stays the same. Even at 83, he will face decisions about the future. Decisions he will make whether he wants to or not. We are only ever settled, just for now.

Yesterday, Mrs. R and I hugged as the moving van left and her visiting daughters waited to take her away. She said how hard it was, that she had been so happy here. The last place she was with her husband. Good neighbors, good memories.

I wished her well on her new adventure.

"Adventure? Is that what we can call it?" she said.

I don't know how else to look at it, without losing it. Change. Never easy. Always present.

My seventeen-year-old stood in the doorway to the living room last night.

“Is Mrs. R gone now?”

I nodded.

“I saw the moving van before I left for school this morning,” he said, in a soft voice.

I smiled at him. I understood.

I hope you slept well in your new home last night, Mrs. R. I shall miss you.


  1. What a lovely tribute to your neighbour. :)

  2. Oh yes! I know lots of people in that stage, helping me see into my future. Nothing lasts forever.

  3. "Inevitable change -- an apt definition of life."

    I absolutely love this definition. And I love what you wrote about your 17 year old and the decisions he has to make right now not really being all that life defining. I have a 17 year old daughter who is a senior in HS and sometimes this whole college process can begin to seem "do or die". Thanks for the reality check.

    As for Mrs. R, I hope she is happy in her new home and I hope she knows just how much she and her husband have meant to your family over the years.

  4. Wow, not only a loving tribute, but a reminder that all things shall pass. Yesterday an old friend, actually a guy I once dated, died. His wife came home and found him gone. Life can change in an instant. All the more reason to enjoy every breath and every moment.

  5. Oh that is so sad she moved and so joyous she was such a good neighbor! Hugs to you for your loss.

  6. How wonderful in what all of you shared (Mrs. R included) when you were neighbors all these years.
    And thank you for the reminder of how we never stop making decision for ourselves.
    I am wondering how far away she is moving. I am glad for her that she has daughters (in the plural).

  7. It's never easy, is it? What a sweet story.

  8. You're right...things change, and its sad sometimes. I hope you will stay in contact with Mrs. R. and I hope you will get another great neighbor that will lead to another special relationship.

  9. What a blessing you were to each other. I love that you gave her the idea of this move being her next adventure. All adventures involve loss before the next horizon can be discovered - as we both know so well. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece.

  10. So so beautiful,I wish you all well. Change,not one of my favorite things.

  11. Back in 1973 we moved into our first house, when I was about six months pregnant. An older lady next day (well into her 80s) took me under her wing in a neighborly way, made a cute little quilt for the soon to be born baby, and passed along a rocking chair that she said she no longer needed. I've never forgotten how much that meant to me.

    Today I barely know my neighbors, and the ones I do know are like aliens. They come home and go immediately into their garages and shut the door, never to be seen again. We barely even seen them mow their grass in the summer!

    You were so lucky to have had a Mrs. R!!! And fortunate to have a son who felt a little sentimental about her moving.

  12. I meant next door, not next day! Why is it that you can proof read ten times, but not see an error until you publish?

  13. Oh, lovely! And I like the way you wove your son's story into that of Mrs. R. Wonderful tribute, and so true. Thank you!

  14. How lucky you and your family were to have such a beautiful neighbor, and for such a long time.
    It is sad that she is no longer there but lets pray she will adjust to her new home and make new friends who will be kind to her as you and your family were. Thank you for sharing this day with us, yes it is sad but then as we grow older it seems these things are bound to happen and I'm not sure we are ever prepared.
    Many hugs my friend, Oh I just wanted to say I love your mum, what a wonderful lady.....:-) Hugs

  15. Lovely story! I had a neighbor a lot like Mrs R. that moved into a retirement home,(more like a Country Club) a few years ago. She was 80 and in good health, but wanted to live closer to her son. She keeps in touch with me by email and on Facebook, as she is computer savvy. Sometimes change is good!

  16. What a beautiful way to say "Goodbye"...I understand her decision, but I grieve with you...This is a wonderful piece of writing...and left me feeling the warmth of your relationship and the memories that you will cherish! Love to you, my friend~Janine XO

  17. Lovely post. And yes, a good eye opener that some things we focus on so much may not be that important overall.

  18. That's so moving. Oh! I really didn't mean that as a pun, but there you have it! It IS moving when people we have known so well exit our lives for one reason or another. She has been a gift to you and your family, and she has been there for a reason. (I remember when her husband died and how that also effected you.) I'm guessing that she passed on a great deal to you, intentionally or not, and you have that treasure within you ... and someday you'll pass it onto someone else.

  19. Aw girl, you made me tear up. Change is always inevitable, sometimes harder than other times to deal with the change. Hugs to you for the loss of such a grand neighbor.

    When my dad died, we still took my mom to Hawaii the following year. It was meant to be for their 50th anniversary (2007). I bought my mom and my sister (and myself!) each a ring from the Sundance jewelry catalog which was engraved with the words "May Your Wildest Dreams Come True". My mom still wears her ring to this day, on her thumb. My purpose in buying that ring was to remind her that her life after my father's passing was totally up to her, and it could be one big adventure, if she so chose.

    (It must be a very popular ring, because I just checked their website and they still have it!)

  20. What a blessing for both families all these years to have each other.

    And best wishes to Mrs. R in her new home.

  21. Such a beautiful tribute to your neighbour and friend. Your child's quiet awareness is quite touching. This is lovely post. I hope you'll be able to touch base with Mrs. R occasionally.

  22. Thank you for writing this. I've seen it happen in my neighborhood several times in the past few years. I haven't known them, but have seen them go - and I wonder - did a partner die, or did they both move into safer communities? But I feel for their losses - homes they've spent 30 years in, independence,community.

    And as they go, and young families move in, I become an "older."

  23. You are fortunate to have had such a special neighbor and friend.
    It's rare these days, I think, to have close neighbors. I miss that from my childhood.

  24. I absolutely loved this post, Julie. I'm so glad your children had someone like Mr. and Mrs. R in their lives. And I'm so glad for the couple that they had you and your kids in their lives. We, with our families so, so far away from us, have been blessed by neighbors like that too and homes that at least my son knows are safe harbors and will be welcoming (my daughter's too young).

  25. What a beautiful post....I love this...

  26. really beautiful...congrats on the POTW!

  27. I hope it does end up an adventure for her. I'm always so sad when someone has to give up living in his/her own home and heads into one of those "senior centers." Yes, they can be good places. I hope hers is for her.

  28. What a lovely post that almost brought tears to my eyes. No wonder you won Hilary's POTW!

    Nuts in May

  29. Senior Centers good places? Try googling 'elder abuse' in care homes and see the statistics.
    I hope you keep in touch with your much-loved neighbour.

  30. Congratulations on your very well-deserved POTW!

  31. Glorious story, glorious writing. I am reminded of one of my favorite quotes, "Change is inevitable. Growth is optional."

  32. This is a beautiful post. Very touching. I hope Mrs. R is settled in and enJOYing her new friends and home. Congrats on the POTW Award!!

  33. I do so hope that Mrs R will enjoy her new home
    it made me both sad and hopeful for her and about her

    beautifully written

    I came by from Hilary's place


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