Thursday, October 26, 2017

NEIGHBORS

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All pictures from the Internet

Years ago when Chris and I were first married, we moved way over into Alabama to be nearer his teen-and-pre-teen children.   The little house we lived in was in a “mill town,” one of many which dotted the quiet shady streets; the older lady who had lived there all her married life had gone into a nursing home and left the house in the hands of a nice lady realtor, who showed us around and directed us toward churches and stores and the library.   It seemed as if the occupants had stepped out for a moment, leaving all their worldlies just as they’d like to find them when they arrived home.  

We slept in their beds, with their linens freshly-dried on the line right out the back door.  We used their dishes, their appliances, their roomy old claw-tub and their floppy wooden five-times-covered ironing board, clattering it out of the special narrow slot in the kitchen wall and shaking the unwieldy legs straight---I loved that clumsy old thing, and when we left, I asked to buy three things, and the realtor lady pressed all of them upon me, just for my asking.   We lived there for almost two years, attending the welcoming little church right down the block, and having a wonderful time amongst all the long-time residents of the neighborhood.   My next-door-neighbor, Miss Bobbie, told me many, many tales of the town’s history as we’d sit on her porch or mine, shelling peas from the tee-ninecy garden plot out back or just enjoying the afternoon at that lovely time of day when it’s too late to begin any real chores, and too early to start cooking supper.

She was a lovely older woman who had moved there as a young wife in the Forties, and had loved her neighbor very much---they were almost sisters, she said, as they’d both moved into those little houses when their husbands had “got on at the Mill,” right after they got back from WWII.  They’d seen each other through some tough times and helped each other with raising their  children, as well as all the assorted happy and sad of daily life in a small town.   And then each clung to the other in her widowhood, not too many years apart.

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I was mesmerized by all the simple happenings she related, and grew to know the former residents of our little home as if they’d been family and we’d inherited the place from a familiar Aunt and Uncle.    


One weekend when the children were all with us, the boys were outside, up trees with the neighbor kids while Chris chatted with the neighbors. Only Karrie and I were at home, and since on another visit,  we’d said we’d wait till a quiet moment to have a peek into an immense old black trunk beside the bed in the spare room, we decided that NOW was the time.   We spread a fresh-dried sheet over the beautiful Chenille counterpane, and gently laid item after item, doily and dresser set and calendar, every pen set and brooch and immense stack of ironed hankies, all the keepsakes and souvenirs and bronzed baby-shoes and diaries and khaki-crumbled report cards, out onto the bed.   
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I don’t know how to express the sunlight and the shine of that small moment, handling the precious things of a family’s past---we two shared such gentle regard for each item, as we took it from its place, admired or read or smiled, and laid it down softly in that room where it belonged.  We were like those white-gloved archivists and curators of precious things for those few hours, I think, giving each piece a moment of quiet respect, and then laying them all safely away in their resting place once again.

And one small leathery case--out of ALL, there was one small object which captured my heart so that I had no words.   I was so struck by a pang of dolor and love and wishing it had been different, that I was all teary over the discovery, and in a moment, so was she. 

   And Moire non in Chapter II. 






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12 comments:

Sylvia said...

Very interesting!

NanaDiana said...

I loved this post, Rachel. Isn't it wonderful how those small day-by-day activities and memory-making moments enrich our lives? We look back as in a dream sometimes and know that our lives are forever changed by those precious moments.

That last portrait is just endearing and heart-rending. xo Diana

Val said...

Oh, Rachel! ♥

Patsy said...

We were talking about those old chenille bedspreads the other day.
They say Walmart and ebay has them.
Sweet memory for you.

donna baker said...

As much as I try and get rid of stuff, it still seems like lots of stuff left. I don't know what the kids will do with it all. Probably Goodwill or something.

Kathy said...

Such a wonderful post. I discovered all kinds of things when I moved into my house. And then I heard stories about the previous family from my neighbors. So nice to think of others living and enjoying their lives where you are now. Time moves on, things change and it's bittersweet to think of times gone by.

BeachGypsy said...

what a beautiful beautiful story!! Please continue it??? What else happened? How long did y'all live there? Was it hard to leave? What happened to the lady next door? And mercy me---I have always LOVED THOSE bedspreads, my Ma-Maws had them. Is that one pictured yours? Well, it's the weekend...do y'all have plans? we are enjoying a little cool spell here!

Latane Barton said...

ah, you left us hanging...

Bunny Jean said...

How gracious of you to cherish those items, knowing that they meant so much to someone. I have felt the same way when perusing the isles of a Goodwill in search of little treasures and come across what I believe to be someone's "life's keepsakes".

You can always tell when someone has donated a collection of unneeded or simply unwanted items after someone's passing. Silly, but I like to touch these items to show reverence. After all they had meant so much to someone.

Makes me think about all my precious trinkets collected over a lifetime.

Happy to have found your blog.

Bunny Jean

Bunny Jean said...

Oh too funny... I checked to see if my comment was posted and noticed I spelled "aisles" as "isles". Must have been because I had Isles on my mind as I had just posted on your 9-13 post about feedjit"s many views from a place in the British Isles called Southend-On Sea.

I too have been getting multiple views, every day, for a long time from that place. I looked it up on the internet and found that your blog was also getting multiple views from there! Hopefully they are just a secret admirer and will eventually let us know who they are. At any rate it lead me to discover your lovely blog!

I'm sharing all this because I don't think my comment got posted on the South-On-Sea post and I see in another post by you, that you have also had issues with posting comments.

Bunny Jean

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