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.
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.
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!