Rags to Riches

One of our next door neighbors is a sweet, eccentric 80 year old widowed lady. Her children and grandchildren are all grown and visit her on Sundays. The rest of the week she goes to rummage sales, senior dances and quilting fairs. She bakes bread in large quantities every two weeks. We are gifted one of these loaves along with three small loaves; one for each of my kids. I make grilled cheese sandwiches out of this amazing bread. The kid’s sandwiches are about the size of a 50 cent piece when I use their loaves.

Her house can best be described as somewhere between a museum and the next entry for the show Hoarders. There is so much to look at and see. Some rooms are so packed that there is only a slight path through them. She used to have a lot of cats poking their heads out from behind boxes and scurrying around. Now there is only one. I’m not sure where the rest went.

She has always been very good to the kids. She has made a quilt for each one when they were born. On our 7 year old Iris’s first birthday she gave her an old, child-size rocking chair that she covered in stickers and magazine cut outs and stenciled her name on it.

Every spring, my five year old son, Bency brings her bouquets of dandelions. No matter how many times he rings her doorbell and makes his delivery during the week, she always gives him a hug and acts surprised.

Every birthday and Christmas she has brought gifts over for the kids consisting of coloring books, farm animal sets, mittens, and sand toys. This past Christmas, she was temporarily immobile due to a back problem. Her son brought over plastic bags for each of the kids and said they were from his mom. The kids were so excited! They opened their bags and found a used white stuffed bear, 3 old dolls, a boy’s hat from the ‘80’s, an old Mexican doll blanket and one fun size Baby Ruth. The kids squealed with delight and rolled around on the floor like they just won the lottery! My husband and I both eyed each other and then looked under our Christmas tree filled with a multitude of wrapped gifts. We don’t go overboard at Christmas but we don’t exactly buy dolls with non-working rolling eyes either. The kids happily went off to play with their new treasures.


Christmas gifts from the neighbor


The other day the kids walked over to our neighbor’s house for a visit. They said they missed her because they haven’t seen her for a few weeks. She welcomed them in and they stayed and chatted for about an hour. They both came home with their arms full. Bency had a coloring book that was only slightly used and a Christmas stuffed bear whose paw said 2005. Someone had taken an ink pen and colored around the eyes and nose. Bency proudly said he was going to name him Santa Bear. Iris had a Valentine Devil stuffed bear and a gold chain I.D. bracelet that said “Kelli” on the name plate. She asked me today to put it in her special drawer reserved only for her best bracelets. Up until today, this drawer has held 3 bracelets from her Papa and 2 from her cousin Jared.


Gifts they received in July


Children don’t require a lot of money spent on them. They need someone who sits and listens to them, gives them hugs, makes them feel special by making them “tiny-sized loaves of bread” and perhaps a few token gifts with non-working rolling eyes!


Iris’s gift she received: I.D. bracelet with the name “Kelli” on it


12 responses

  1. So true…..reminded me of my youngest of 3 when he came home from 3rd grade one day and pronounced that he did not like his teacher. I knew she must have done something ‘big’ for him to say that because he never said things like that. When I asked him why and he said, “Well, Mom, when she asks a question and calls on Connor, who answers right away, she smiles at him and looks happy. But when she calls on other kids who take a little longer to answer (or don’t get the right answer), she clicks her fingernails on the overhead projector and ROLLS HER EYES. I won’t answer for her again, Mom.” He still remembers her, but only for that reason. All the great things she did for the kids that year didn’t count in his mind because she caused kids to feel badly about their need to THINK before they answered.
    Your comments about kids needing someone to really listen, with patience and NON rolling eyes, hit home. Kids would rather have our undivided attention, with unconditional patience and acceptance, than any ‘things’ money can buy.
    By the way, Daniel is a kind and amazing 4.0 honors student in his senior of college, majoring in both marketing and statistics. Perhaps his 3rd grade teacher should ‘roll her eyes’ now:)

  2. Thanks for your ‘Follow’ and I do like your stories, too! I’m a collector of sorts myself. I have my oldest grand daughter’s stuffed bear who was homeless and now boards at my house, and a lot of stuff the grandkids parents would throw out if not rescued by Nana. Sometimes I have ‘talks’ with the children about giving their things away or we choose a younger cousin may want a doll house and the items they have outgrown, but there is still a special area in my house and a guest room which the grandkids have marked as their own space with stuffed animals, extra clothes drawers for them, boxes of craft stuff, etc.

    Sometimes I show them what’s in my trunk. Don’t know if you saw ‘Ten Year Old Models Wedding Gown’ yet. Do read it!

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