Sometimes your childhood neighbours can influence--for your entire lifetime.
My parents tried for many years to have a baby. They kept trying and trying, year after year, growing older and older until--
One day my mother said, "Henry." Henry--that's my dad. "Henry, I think I'm--." Voice choked with tears, she patted her belly.
He lept up off the chesterfield and danced around the living room. My dad was very reserved. This outburst wasn't like him, at all. I would have loved to have seen it.
"Kate, you were a miracle," they always said, concluding my birth story.
I began to believe that a north star came to shine over our house on the day of my birth.
My parents weren't demonstrative. They found it hard to talk about feelings. So they expressed their love by buying me things--a toy box full. Other toys, my most treasured ones, I displayed on a set of shelves that lined one wall of my bedroom. Often, when I tell people of my childhood abundance, they say, "Oh, you were spoiled." Spoiled falls like a gavel. As if I were guilty of some crime, but being spoiled is something others do to you.
I grew up beside Mrs. Zooie and her brood of screaming children. Seldom seen, Mr. Zooie was a construction worker or worked for hydro or something--one of those jobs that allowed him to escape. When he returned to work, he left behind half-crazed kids. I wonder if he filled them up with chocolate before he left. Maybe he liked leaving his wife with a challenge. Maybe he felt guilty for having to leave.
Every time my mom stepped outside Mrs. Zooie called, "Do you have a minute?"
Knowing how lonely for adult companionship Mrs. Zooies must have been and being a good neighbour, my mom would invite her over. The minutes stretched and stretched and stretched. Mrs. Zooie sat in my dad's chair, drank our coffee, ate our cake.
Mrs. Zooie's brood, realizing their mom's absence, came marching over like a stream of invading ants.
"Kate, play with your guests." My mom's words were delivered with a look that told me that if I didn't follow orders there would be consequences. I've never liked consequences.
Having no choice, I lead the marauders upstairs to my toy box. They veered left to my display of toys.
Ignoring me, they proceeded to pull, bend, tear, and twist. Trailing toys back downstairs, they returned to their mom.
Noticing the toys, Mrs. Zooie demanded her children to, "Be more careful!"
Finally, they all went back home leaving behind an ocean of broken toys, leaving behind me fighting back tears.
"I don't want them in this house," I told my mother, biting down on my anger. "I don't want them near my toys--never, ever again."
All through elementary school, middle school, high school, my mother kept saying, "Now, Kate, we have to be neighbourly."
I graduated from high school and moved away. I visited my parents sometimes by phone or email, usually by Zoom--seldom in person. Being a foreign correspondent, I had to go wherever they sent me--even if it meant the other side of the world. I went to some exotic places and had wild adventures. Living beside the Zooies proved to be good training for my career.
After several years of travel, I was ready to settle down. In their will, my parents left me their house and all that went with it. Yesterday, Mrs. Zooie visited with her brood of exuberant grandchildren. Thanks to one of the little darlings, I now know why they advise against putting metal in a microwave. I invited them to visit again next week--because you have to be neighbourly.
This week I listened to...
I'm thrilled to conclude April with a guest post.
Sunday, April 25
Savannah Cordova will share writing tips in her article
How to Maintain Writing Productivity Through Tough Times
Her article is both interesting and helpful
Mark Your Calendar...
On this Blog in May
This week not only did I receive the Covid vaccine but also got three fillings. I'm thankful for the compassionate and professional care I received.