Back into the swing of things after a brief vacation. The family and I headed out to Colorado to visit long time friends. The family was celebrating their parents’ 50th wedding anniversary. It was a wonderful trip.
Growing up my family and I lived in a small town outside of Detroit. My father was a teacher and my mother was a full-time home parent. We moved into a new home development in the early 60′s. The neighborhood we lived in was filled with new homes and parents with young children.
After living in our home for a few years a new family moved in next door to us. I remember my mom telling me the new neighbors had a girl my age and I should go over and introduce myself. I took my mother’s advice and went over to say hello to the young girl and met her family.
The young girl and I became instant friends, best friends. We hung out together everyday, went to the same school and spent all of our free time together. Shortly after meeting my new friend my parents decided to end their marriage and divorce. Back in the early 70′s divorce was very uncommon, especially for a Catholic family like ours was.
When my father moved out my mother, who was a full-time home parent, went to work outside the home. She ended up working long hours first as a preschool teacher and then a preschool director. My three sisters, one brother and I used to spend our time alone at home or at friend’s home while our mom worked.
The family next door is where I spent most of my time. It consisted on my best friend, her two brothers, her little sister, and her parents, Mr. and Mrs. G. Mr. and Mrs. G are the folks whose 50th anniversary my family and I recently attended in Colorado.
As a child I was outgoing and thought nothing of popping over to my friend’s house everyday. My mother was not around to tell me I might be imposing and Mr. and Mrs. G were kind to allow me to come over when ever I felt like it. They were welcoming people.
In our part of the neighborhood children always hung out at the G family’s home. There was always something fun going on. In the summer there were volleyball, kickball and basketball games. In the winter Mr. G would take the hose and spray the front yard to create and ice rink for the kids to skate on. Popsicles could be found in the freezer in the garage. The G’s garage was also the place for play performances.
When it rained we headed inside for card games or listening to music in the basement. As a child I loved going next door to visit. I was always made to feel a part of the family. I was invited over for egg hunts every spring and even seemed to somehow snag all the eggs with money in them. Mr. G would always invite me to Baskin Robbins on warm summer evenings to have ice cream with the family. If something was happening at the G house I was there.
I don’t think I fully realized what a positive influence the Mr. and Mrs. G had on my life until I became a parent and neighbor myself. Mr. and Mr. G loved their children and were happily married. There were my role models for what a two parent, happy home looked like raising a family.
As my children got older and invited neighborhood children to my home and realized I was offering the same experience I had been given as child. Mr. and Mrs. G showed me the importance of being a good neighbor and to never underestimate the positive influence I could have on the lives of children other than my own.
In my junior year of high school Mr. G decided to move his family out west to Colorado to live near his older brother. The G family settled in Colorado. I was sad to see the G family leave. It was hard to imagine they would no longer be a part of my everyday life. Luckily I remained close to my best childhood buddy and visited the G family in Colorado many, many times.
When I recently attended the 50th anniversary party for Mr. and Mrs. G I was asked to give a small speech. I felt honored to do so. It was an emotional speech because I realized how grateful I was to both of them for making what could have been a lonely childhood and turned it into a happy one. I felt thankful to them for making me always feel loved.
I’m still grateful to Mr. and Mrs. G. Grateful they were my good neighbors who became part of my family.