Monday, August 24, 2009

The lady across the street

cross Pictures, Images and Photos
I live in a working class neighborhood on the east coast. Sidewalked, tree lined streets with houses no more than ten feet apart. Sound close and conjested? It's not. Cozy? You bet.

We all have our little bit of Eden in the fenced back yards that butt up against one another (not to mention the occasional fight over tree limbs and roots encroaching on property and in the summer, the tomato wars) but it is the front porches that seem to make the street and neighborhood breathe.

When the power goes out, we all come out on the porches and someone always has a brother who works for the city who knows the scoop. When there are ambulances, we all come out on the porches and tsk and tsk and someone always has a brother who works at the police department who knows the scoop. When a new baby is brought home, we all come out on the porches and coo and coo and welcome them into our front porch loving arms.

This is how it went when I brought home my babies. It was especially nice when I brought home Tess, our middle girl, because the lady across the street had the same name. It's one of those things, you know? Names are powerful buisness. We bond through them, grapple with our identity, make freinds. There is much in a name.

The lady across the street and her husband were old. Many of the people who live around us are old. They've been here a long time. They know the schools and the acidic property of the soil. They always win the tomato wars. Bill and I see ourselves in them.

A few weeks ago I took a day and worked from home. I sat on the wicker bench on our front porch, felt the breezes come at me from the sea through the green leafed light and watched her husband putter around the front of their house. I had a good view.

He was painting the porch steps. It is a yearly task for him, for many of us. I've watched him do this before. He moved slow, but gently, and I wondered how many times during his life he dipped a paintbrush into a can, and I wondered if he wondered if this would be the last summer he would do this. Do the old allow themselves endfull thoughts?

Yesterday I found out that it wouldn't be his last summer painting those steps. Well, it might be, but it isn't over until it's over, right? Yesterday I found out it is his wife who won't ever see the task completed. The lady across the street, who shares a name with my middle girl, who talked to me over sidewalks and asphalt and time, porch to porch. She died.

They were married 62 years, and when we saw the people gathering outside, we went outside too, and her daughters, who I know by face, not name (why?) came and hugged me and told me how much she enjoyed our talks.

I enjoyed them too. I will miss her.

Slowly... Bill and I are becomming the older people on the block. The ones who know the soil, the secret of the lawns, the winners of the tomato wars.

I make a silent vow to train the people well, those newcommers who buy your house. I promise.

20 comments:

  1. Sorry about your loss. This post made me cry. It's a reminder to enjoy every single second we have here.

    ReplyDelete
  2. What a lovely post! It reminds me of the circle of life. Isn't it scary though when you find yourself following in others footsteps?

    ReplyDelete
  3. Aww! Married 62 years!!!!!! AAGGHH!! ;) I'm sorry for his loss. What a sweet post.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Oh,wow! I'm all choked up. Beautifully written post. I'm sorry for your loss and amazed at what you've taken away from the experience.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I'm so sorry to hear that. The same thing is going on in our neighborhood right now, with the house next to us up for sale after one owner moved to a nursing home (the other is moving shortly). Across the street and down one house, the older husband died this summer, leaving a widow & her sons.

    Sadly, those moving in don't seem to want the same sort of neighborly connection we have had with our older neighbors. The new people are our age, but not interested in chats in the yard or even friendly waves. Very sad.

    I hope you have more luck in your neighborhood.

    ReplyDelete
  6. the role of "catalyst" fits you well. The newcomers can't help but follow your lead.

    ReplyDelete
  7. We were the new kids on the block in just such a neighborhood 30 years ago in Kansas City. I miss that sweet close knit neighborly love.

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was so, so lovely and sad. I'm sorry for your loss.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Beautifully told. I feel a sense of sadness for your loss but also a sense of hope and continuity.

    ReplyDelete
  10. I love your posts like this. They're full of heart and history. I really, really enjoy them.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Beautiful thoughts here today. And, a neighbor named Tess, too? You must just have a Tess-attraction-quality about you (ok, that sounded wierd and creepy, but you know how I meant it - I hope).

    ReplyDelete
  12. All! Thanks. It is important to remember that we have pasts presents and futures. (at least I think so.)

    Tess: I get it!

    ReplyDelete
  13. So sorry for your loss! Beautiful post! :)

    ReplyDelete
  14. Oh, I am so sorry. Yes, train the people well Suzanne. And may you win a few tomato wars as times move on. Hugs to you.

    ReplyDelete
  15. *hugs* Very beautiful post! I want to live in a place like that one day. (I have something for you at my blog.)

    ReplyDelete
  16. Beautiful is exactly the right word. So touching, endfull thoughts. Your writing is extraordinary, as is your outlook on life.
    Thanks for reminding me to enjoy the simple.

    Wishing you 63 years of blissful life.

    ReplyDelete
  17. Interesting how I wrote about the circle of life today on my blog. We are truly in sync.;-)

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am sorry you lost a friend, thanks for sharing.

    ReplyDelete