It was a long time ago. Decades, actually. I don't even remember what started it, but there was a neighborhood kerfuffle. Nasty words were said and I was told (among other things) "Nobody in this neighborhood likes you."
I had been so happy to move to a smaller town, envisioning coffee klatches with my neighbors, borrowing sugar, block parties, etc. After being told nobody liked us (because we didn't have a well manicured yard), with my perennial low self esteem, it was just the deterrent I needed to avoid the neighbors.
At that time, the mayor lived across the street and threw a big neighborhood party every year. I couldn't face the neighbors that year and didn't go, because I knew nobody liked me. It might have blown over and I might have gone the following year, but she died during the year and there were no more parties.
There was a brief detente the year there was a terrible traffic accident that set a house on fire and killed a pet...and nearly killed a child. The whole neighborhood came together to work on the traffic problem, but once a decision had been made, we went back to our homes again. No coffee klatches here.
There was the time, years after the incident, when I went to a parents meeting with someone who was a neighbor. She sat as far away from me as she could, and when information needed to be passed to parents instead of calling me or knocking on the door, she put a notice in my mail box.
And then there was David's death, when we had cards and letters and food flooding in from everyone in town, except our neighbors. I think one person in the neighborhood expressed condolences. Two or three came around after Paul's death.
I have jokingly referred to myself as the neighborhood pariah and accepted that long ago. It doesn't sting as bad as it used to. But 42 years without feeling a part of the neighborhood....
Today I was working in my office and the front doorbell rang. Walt went to answer the door. He was gone awhile and then came into my office and handed me a big envelope. He said it had been a neighbor at the door. On the envelope was written "Bev and Ned." "How nice," I thought. "They must have contributed to the St. Baldrick's fund," and was touched.
Then I opened the envelope and I started crying. It was a card signed by all of our neighbors. Added to the card was written:
As your neighborhood friends, we support you and Ned in your commitment to bring awareness to cancer research.
The card was filled with money. $140 in cash and $110 in checks. I couldn't believe it.
I raced out of the house to catch the woman who had brought the card. I found her in her driveway and I gave her a big hug, tears running down my face. I have never been touched by anything so much in long time.
With those donations, Ned and I have now collected more than $3,000. If I was humbled when we hit $2,000 I can't even explained how I feel tonight.
In addition to this wonderful donation from our neighbors, a package came from Mary Z, who comments on this journal periodically. She sent me 4 caps she had knitted (so my mother doesn't have to see my bald head).