My parents lived next door to the Welles family on Ivy Hill Road for almost thirty years before downsizing to a condo complex a couple of miles away. After she was widowed a few years later, Mrs. Welles was ready to move. It just so happened that the condominium next door to my parents was for sale, and they invited her to take a look. So Mrs. Welles became their next-door neighbor again, for the rest of their lives.
The funny thing is, they didn’t share a lot of life. They never traveled together or shared holidays, but they were always there for each other. And I guess they got used to that. You can’t choose family, and usually the same goes for neighbors, but if you’re lucky, neighbors become like family.
I have lived in many places, but I’ve never had a better family of neighbors than I have now. I’ve watched our neighbors’ boys since birth. They hunt frogs by the pond, join me on dog walks, build epic snow forts with their dad, and pick up our mail (they’re paid in cookies). We’ve cheerfully exchanged mowers, fridge space, dog and child-care, and snow removal. No strings attached.
Jean lives across the street. We climb mountains; we sit with tea; we roll our eyes at the news. We nudge each other to get to yoga class; we commiserate and celebrate over dogs and husbands. She reminds me to breathe. Our lives have overlapped in motherhood, the empty nest, the loss of parents, and soon, grandmotherhood. I have two biological sisters. We are very close, but they live far away. My sisterhood with Jean is rooted in life experience and a comforting proximity to home. It’s nice to know she’s there.
Oh damn. I think I’ve just walked myself into the State Farm insurance jingle.
My 60th year in 60,000 words
Day 59: 306 words, TOTAL = 9481; 50,519 remaining
Robin Clifford Wood is a writer and writing teacher. She lives in central Maine with her husband and dogs, loves to be outdoors, and enjoys ever-expanding horizons through her grown children and their multi-species families.