“Good fences make good neighbors.” – Robert Frost
The end of August will mark four years that my husband and I have lived in our house. To the east of our house, is a rental home that has had a dubious run of tenants until Katie, an emergency room nurse and single mom of two girls, moved in. To the west is Bonnie – Bonnie means constancy and today, a shopping bag full of onions from her nephew’s garden, as well as a promise from me that I will feel free to pick tomatoes from her cherry tomato plants that are a green riot in her garden.
Bonnie has been a hidden perk of home ownership – a mother of four (or is it five?) grown sons, the kind of grandmother who always has a full cookie jar for the grandkids (and neighbors) that stop by – my source of neighborhood gossip, the person who knows the history of our house’s previous tenants, etc. I am not exaggerating when I say that I love this person – she has shown me what it means to be a neighbor. That was something of a foreign concept after a decade of living in apartments and either avoiding my neighbors or just not knowing them at all. I always used to mutter Robert Frost’s line under my breath after a typical neighbor encounter during my apartment life.
Vacations are marked with phone calls – “no, we’ll be home in a couple days, no need to check the mail” or “Yup, I can grab your papers for you while you’re gone, just call when you are back and we’ll run them over.” I know that Bonnie is afraid of thunderstorms and she knows that I tend to play my music way too loud.
Bonnie stopped over today with her sons’ phone numbers written down on a list and keys to her front and back doors. Four years ago, right after we moved into our home, she had her hip replaced and wouldn’t you know it? Four years later, there’s something wrong with that fracking hip model and she needs to go get some parts of it replaced. (I do not pretend to know the mechanics of hip replacement surgery.) She’s not leaving to go visit a granddaughter for a couple of days, she’s going to be gone for weeks. Yup, I’ll make sure her papers are picked up. Her sons know to call us as soon as they know how she’s doing. I have a reminder on my calendar to send her flowers and I will carve time out of my schedule to visit her in the nursing home when she’s convalescing.
It isn’t necessarily a frugal thing. It’s a good neighbor thing … “my husband and I will keep an eye out on your house while you’re gone.”
Today, Bonnie introduced me to one of the pitfalls of home ownership … I am going to miss her something fierce.
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