Like a Good Neighbor

When I finally sat down last night to read and write a little, I was overcome with nostalgia. Our Mother’s Day celebration caused some of it but most of it came from our time at the church. The church was filled with others honoring the man’s life.

We knew him as Mr. Jimmy. We lived next door to him and his wife for thirteen years in another small town not far from the one we live in now.

We drove past the old place on our way to the church and the sweet memories filled my mind. The summer gardens. The country roads. The fields and the tractors and the cows.

And Mr. Jimmy.

The visitation line moved slowly. When it was my turn to offer my condolences, I shared a few treasured memories, told his wife and daughters what he meant to us, and explained that our son would be there but he lives far away now.

Our kids spent a lot of time in Mr. Jimmy’s fields; climbing the hay bales, fishing the ponds, digging up bones and old glass bottles. They spent plenty of time in Mr. Jimmy’s barn too. Playing in empty stalls, cuddling kittens and chasing puppies. We didn’t know it until yesterday but on the wall of Mr. Jimmy’s barn is the name of each child that has ever passed through it, including our three. His wife told us Mr. Jimmy wrote their names in black permanent marker.

Anyone could tell Mr. Jimmy loved his place by the way he took care of it. He kept the barn clean and knew where everything was. A dust covered radio played old country or southern gospel music all the time. He enjoyed time on his tractor and ate onions right out of the ground. He chewed on peppermint from his herb garden to ease an upset stomach. He loved to tell a good story, especially the ones about how he used to be but wasn’t anymore. He loved Jesus and gave him all the credit for anything good in his life. He’d come to the house for a short visit and sit on the same side of the love seat every time. What we all remember most about Mr. Jimmy was his kindness, generosity and a willingness to go above and beyond.

Usually a verse I’ve read is rolling around in my head and I share it for Monday School. But today, it wasn’t a verse I was thinking about. I was thinking about Mr. Jimmy and what he meant to so many people.

Mr. Jimmy was a good neighbor. The kind Jesus talked about in the Gospels. The kind James wrote about in his epistle. And everyone was Mr. Jimmy’s neighbor.

Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.    James 2:8

13 Years Here

The renovations on the inside of my childhood home are complete. The guys we hired to do the hard stuff have done a fantastic job and it’s beautiful.

Tomorrow we’ll begin to move our life from one place to another. I’ve already moved some of the small stuff. Boxes of old pictures, books, and wall hangings are there at the new house.

But the old house still holds most of our things. And memories. Lots of memories……13 years worth. It’s been a good place to us. Lots of good times have happened here. We imagehave the best neighbors in the world and the most beautiful country roads you’ve ever seen. The people here are hard working people. The kind that stop to talk to you when you’re walking on the country roads. They’ve heard we’re moving….so they stop and ask about it.

I’ll miss that. The community I’ve felt here. I’ll miss Mr. Billy and his wife, Brenda, stopping by in the fall and blowing the horn for me to come out of the house to see if I want to buy 25 lbs of sweet potatoes or some collard greens. We always visit awhile and I look at pictures of his sweet great grandchildren.

I’ll miss Mr. Jimmy. His 30 plus acres are right beside our place. He let the kids stomp and romp all over that land. They fished in his ponds, climbed on his hay bales, rode his horses, borrowed anything from his barn (as long as they put it back), and built forts there, too. They’ve long since outgrown all that but they will remember imageit forever.

I’ll miss our Christmases here. Our live tree took up almost the whole living room but it was okay because it was Christmas. And we barely had room to open the gifts when extra family was here.

I’ll miss the walks on my country road. The quiet and beauty. The cotton growing, the horses neighing, and the cows grazing.  The sound in the summer of the crickets and frogs and cicadas. The pecan trees and blackberry bushes.

We’ve grown in this place. Not just older, but better. Along with the good, there’ve been hard times here, too. We’ve laughed and cried here. We’ve been healed here and loved here.

It’s all been so good to us.

I’m so thankful for the years in our little home in the country.

In response to the Daily Post’s Neighbors

Neighbors 

Even though it was beautiful outside, I had planned to work on our taxes when I got home. I’d rather do anything else but the deadline is nearing.

I’d decided to do leftovers for dinner. There was plenty of shrimp étouffée left for all of us. I would heat it, add a simple salad and dinner would be served.

Then taxes.

I changed into some comfy clothes as soon as I got home.  Before I got to the kitchen my son asked if we could grill out with the neighbors. They’d asked if we wanted to join them while he was outside earlier.

All kinds of excuses not to join them popped into my head.  Anything we had to grill was frozen. A grocery run would take too long.  I was tired and really didn’t feel neighborly. And the taxes. The taxes need to be done.

My son was persistent. He offered to go to the grocery store and his sisters were just as eager to be with the neighbors for dinner.

I gave in.

The neighbors grilled the meat.  I fixed enough salad for everyone.  Another neighbor brought potato wedges and we all sat on their deck and ate together.  We shared stories, reminisced and laughed as the little ones played.

I’m glad I gave in.  I didn’t know it but this spontaneous dinner with the neighbors turned out to be just what I needed.

The taxes will get done another day.

In response to the Daily Post’s prompt Neighbors.