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Marcia Kester: Neighbors became our extended family

Recently, my husband and I attended a memorial service for a woman – a mother of four adult children who used to live in our neighborhood. It’s been said that the older you get, the more of these wakes and funerals you attend. Isn’t that a pleasant thought?

Usually after going to a “service of memories,” my mind visits the place and time we met. That being said, I invite you to visit our neighborhood. Picture this:

It was the early 1970s when we all moved into our brand-new houses within a year or two of each other. I was pregnant with our second child when we looked at our new house to be. I remember thinking, “This is so great! We can buy it, move right in and be all ready to welcome this little bundle of joy.” Or so I thought.

Just like everything else in life, the whole ordeal took much longer than expected. The paperwork, the inspection and the closing took forever. But there was one thing that came early. That little bundle of joy I was carrying made her debut a month early. I guess she couldn’t wait to see her new home, either.

Looking back, our street was so much different than it is today. For starters, most of our driveways were made of stone. Tiny trees were planted, and garages were few and far between.

Just like most neighborhoods, there were some problems. But the older we became, the more we agreed with each other.

The children’s return to school each September brings all kinds of emotions to parents. When your first child goes to school, you worry about everything. Are the teachers qualified? What happens if another child hurts your child? The worry list is endless. By the time your second (or third or fourth) child goes to school, all the rules have changed. There are tears again, but this time they are tears of joy. The worry list still exists, but the main worry now is: If there is a lot of snow, will the schools be closed?

Most of us had young children and most of the mothers worked, but there was not a lot of money for entertainment. So we entertained each other. When all the little ones were asleep, one of the husbands (he asked me not to use his name, so I won’t, Larry) brought his record player out and we had a ball. We ate, we drank and we danced! If you visit us today, you may notice that we walk a little funny. I do not know why.

I vividly remember one very hot and humid August. To ease our suffering, we had water wars. That August I was 8 months pregnant with baby No. 3. Do you have any idea how far a normal water hose can reach? Across the street! I thought my water broke. We were such a mature group.

Of course, there have been some changes. The titles of “Mommy” and “Daddy” have become “Grandma” and “Grandpa.” And “employment” is now “retirement.” Sometimes change is good.

Living here for so long, its like we’ve become a family. We’ve been to each other’s birthday, communion and graduation parties. After that came the weddings and baby showers, though not always in that order.

As friends, we have shared tears with each other over illness and loss. Some have completed their life’s journey and we miss them so much. It’s been a great ride.

So, if you want, come and visit us. Just look for the people who walk funny. And don’t forget your hose.

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