Today’s theme for Six Word Friday is “chat”. I had some fun with it – six lines of six words!
Chat is such a simple word
Neighbors become friends; friends become family
Offenses lessen when affections are built.
Grandmothers chat over the back fence
Children hear and later become mothers
And repeat the stories to next generations.
There are so many truths on so many levels.
Thankfully, we have good neighbors where we live. Our dogs are idiots. We’ve lived here four years and they still bark at the neighbors. We bring them in quickly, our neighbors also ignore them. Taking time to chat and become friends helps smooth over all kinds of offenses on both sides.
We also try to get to know their extended family members as well. It’s nice to be able to say hello to them, to know who they are and that they belong there, and it’s just nice manners.
We watched (in horror? fascination?) one weekend as one of the grandfather’s repeatedly kept trying to pet our min pin through the fence. Thankfully his reflexes were fast enough to avoid getting nipped by the fierce defender of our household. We’d respectfully asked the small children to not touch the dog, but couldn’t bring ourselves to ask the same of their grandfather.
The last three sentences are a nod to my mother. My grandmothers lived next to each other. My maternal grandmother was divorced and raising two children on her own. My paternal grandparents had four children and my father’s maternal grandmother lived with them.
Between hanging laundry and tending a garden, my grandmothers and great-grandmother chatted over the fence. Many of the family stories I have now are from what my mother overhead as a child. My mother has made my great-grandmother real to me in addition to stories about my grandparents that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
When my paternal grandmother had a late in life baby, she told my maternal grandmother “I don’t know how that happened”. My maternal grandmother snorted and said, “I could have told her how THAT happened”. When it snowed, my paternal grandfather send my father and uncle over to shovel the sidewalk for my maternal grandmother.
My youngest uncle (the late in life baby) loved to eat and my maternal grandmother loved to cook. For a long time, he’d eat supper with my maternal grandmother and then go home to eat another supper with his parents. This got discovered when the two women were discussing how heavy he’d become and found out he was eating two suppers. My paternal grandfather was horrified because he knew how tight the bills were for my other grandmother. For her, she was trying to repay the favors my grandparents did for her.
My paternal great-aunt was very fashionable. Being a single working woman, she replaced her wardrobe frequently. Her clothing was always in very good shape and she passed it down to my maternal grandmother, who gratefully welcomed the clothes and wore them to her own job.
My maternal grandmother came with me to the memorial service when my other grandmother died. I was so proud of my cousins! They lined up to greet her like she was royalty. Later, she got up at her memorial service to tell everyone that my paternal grandmother was a good neighbor and woman. I was proud that she got up to speak and glad that my daughter and cousins’ children got a chance to hear this about their grandmother.
Why tell the family stories? Because these things repeat themselves. We have opportunities to do favors for each other. Chatting over a fence creates affections. It’s easier to forgive offenses, and makes us faster to help out. My neighbor has helped carry in dog food when my favorite boy toy was out of town. I called them when their attic fan started clanking and they were away for the weekend.
When crime increased in my daughter’s neighborhood, she and a neighbor watched out for each other. If strange car appeared in the driveway and a call wasn’t made promptly to explain why, the police were called. Over time, they become good friends. The neighbor has unfortunately moved away, but I’m glad she was there when my daughter needed someone to help.
Not every neighbor will become a friend. But it’s worth trying because ya’ never know.
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This is one of the few pictures I have with my grandmothers together. They are second and third from the left in the back row. My mother is at the far right of the back row, next to my paternal great-aunt.
I’m in the middle in front, between my aunt and my sister. My aunt is the mother of my cousin with Down’s syndrome, the little girl next to my sister. The other people in the picture are maternal great-aunts and my maternal uncle is the guy behind the camera.
It is likely my father took this picture due to its graininess. He had a tiny Minox camera that fit in his shirt pocket, but the pictures were very grainy.