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Over the fence and into our hearts

The neighbors have left.

No, we didn’t drive them away. They outgrew their post-War Cape, even with its addition. The baby has been a nomad since the day she was born, sneaking in a few winks in a bassinet in the dining room, play room, a sibling’s room.

They had to go, and it isn’t easy on any of us.

They’re less than 2 miles away, in a beautiful house on a cul de sac with plenty of new friends for the four kids to play with. So we’ll see them. But it won’t be the same.

Already when we stopped by, we were “company” — bringing a bottle of tequila, offering kisses and hugs hello and goodbye. Sitting a little awkwardly in the box-filled living room before jumping in to help out.

It’s a big change from our usual interaction — in the driveway, over the fence, hanging out on one patio or the other, having them appear at the front door looking for a key recipe ingredient, advice on treating a child’s bump or bruise, to bring us the most amazing challah bread French toast or because one of the kids wanted to see “Mr. Basil” or “Cafrine.”

We knew it would be emotional. Despite all the adages about neighbors, we have become quite close to them, sharing recipes, many BBQs, our Christmas traditions (they are Jewish and the kids were fascinated by our tree and its ornaments). We’ve rushed to their aid and they to ours. They’ve employed Catherine as a babysitter, checked up on her when she’s been home sick. On almost any weekend day, we could find them at the door, hanging out on our patio or even in the fridge!

The kids are crazy for Basil. The 2-year-old talks incessantly about him and begs to “come your house.” She likes to go from room to room, pointing out idle ceiling fans and demanding that Basil “fix it.”

The 5-year-old — their only boy — likes to help Basil work in the garage, and sheds his shirt  when pushing his toy mower so he can be “like Mr. Basil.” He also has declared Basil’s chicken the “best BBQ” ever and considers Catherine his girlfriend, although he recently told her he needs some “quiet time.”

The eldest, who will start second grade in a couple of weeks, loves to spend time with Catherine, drawing her pictures, having her nails polished — even helping to clean Catherine’s room.

Moving day was Friday. All week, we watched the process, starting with removal of the swing set – a surprisingly emotional step.

It’s very quiet here now. No shouts of “Mrs. Basil, look at me!” No playful shrieks (or bickering!). Our patio is not a riot of chalk drawings. There are no bubbles floating through the yard. No one is in the garage looking to “help” Mr. Basil rake or shovel. Our fans are “fixed” whether they are idle or not. No one has knocked on the door with a request or to share a funny story.

Yesterday, Jaclyn and Steven stopped by to clear out the fridge and remaining few things the movers didn’t get. How strange to see the house empty. Jaclyn wiped tears from her face as she backed out of the driveway.

Watching her go, Basil said he had a bug in his eye, but I know better.

About Terri S. Vanech

Wife, mother, communications specialist, Jazzercise instructor and recently reunited adoptee. I'm living out loud -- and trying to make it all work -- in midlife. Having a sense of humor sure helps.


3 thoughts on “Over the fence and into our hearts

  1. thanks, ladies, for your nice comments. I’ve had some similar feedback offline, including from the family I’ve written about. They are treasures, indeed, and I am much humbled to have moved you and others today with my post. Thank you for reading.

    Posted by terrisv15 | August 22, 2011, 8:15 pm
  2. I’m all teary after reading this. Makes me remember all the friends who have moved cross town or country, and the empty feeling when they leave. Their houses still tend to be referred to by their names — it’s Judy’s house, even though it burned down, was rebuilt, and has been occupied by 3 families since.

    Good neighbors are a treasure, and chosen “family” sometimes better than real.

    Posted by Karen Waggoner | August 22, 2011, 11:29 am
  3. well, that’s great, you have me crying first thing in the morning… beautifully written.

    Posted by Susan Lindine | August 22, 2011, 8:26 am

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