My next door neighbor Charlotte is like a wise old owl. She has been living in this neighborhood for 41 years. Born in 1928, she has watched, listened, and breathed the comings and goings of each new season and the people who live and have lived here for over four decades.
Fortunately for my family, she befriended us from the very first week we moved here over two years ago. Our friendship has since blossomed like a brightly colored Crepe Myrtle Tree, similar to the one in The Newton’s yard across the street. Charlotte has been watching that tree bud outside her living room window every year since the day it was planted.
Of course when she realized she was getting new neighbors she began to watch us, too, as we moved in and became her new friends. She instantly welcomed us to the neighborhood and the rest is history.
No sooner were we shouting pleasantries across the yard when we saw her coming or going in her 1999 white Buick. If she was returning from church or getting her hair done, we always loved seeing Charlotte. On occasion, we when would see her coming home from the Piggly Wiggly, we would help her carry her groceries up to the porch. And like all good relationships, this one is reciprocal. When she would see us in our yard she would (and still does) invite us into her neat-as-a-pin home for a social visit.
Prior to us living next door to Charlotte, her dear friend Hazel lived here. They lived next door to each other for almost 40 years and became especially close when both of their husbands passed away many years ago. In 2008 when Hazel passed away our house remained vacant for well over a year. Charlotte wished for new (nice) neighbors and missed the company of her late friend.
Now, over two years later, I continue to adore Charlotte. She has listened and supported me through my marriage, the birth of my son, and regular old day-to-day happenings. She has become a mentor, a friend, and most meaningful, like a surrogate grandmother to me. Since Charlotte’s only child lives in Connecticut and two grandchildren live far away, she does not get to see them much. And since I live next door, I get to visit regularly 🙂 This is win-win situation because one of my grandmas lives in Pennsylvania and the other passed last October.
Lance loves visiting, too!
Before Lance was born our visits were memorable, yet intermittent. I would see her in passing and here and there for quick visits, sometimes with Jan, sometimes with Luke, and sometimes just by myself. But as soon as Lance arrived on the scene and I was home more often, my visits began to increase. Soon we made an agreement that I would bring Lance over once a week. She loves to “ooohhh” and “aaahhh” over him and tell him he is “so adorable” in her Paula Dean-esque southern voice. She also loves to give him an afternoon bottle. Lance has come to know and love her as much as me.
In addition to Charlotte’s southern charm and gentle ways with Lance, she covets pictures. You know, the kind you hold and feel in your hands — not the digital type. Charlotte still owns and uses a Canon Sure Shot camera and gets her film developed at the drugstore every few months. She likes to take pictures of Lance and give them to me once she gets them developed. I have even started a photo album with the pictures she gives me since I am sad to say, but I do not often get prints made because I house my photos on the computer.
Charlotte, the wise old owl, keeps track of Jan, Lance, Luke, and I as if we were her young owlets. If our cars have been gone for more than a day, she will notice. Therefore, when we go away we find ourselves calling or stopping over to make sure Charlotte knows where we are going, when we are leaving, and when we are coming back. We love that she keeps track of us and watches over our home when we are gone, and believe me we are doing the same and looking after her when we can, too.
My fondness of Charlotte continues to grow, and I could easily write on about her. But for today, I will simply say… Ode to my special neighbor, Charlotte. Her stories, her historical knowledge, and her life experiences always keep me (and Lance) looking forward to the next visit.
Charlotte is like a wise old owl, and for that I am grateful!