Monday, October 2, 2023

Relationships: Neighbors

I've read numerous articles and blogs about the importance of relationships in life. Having great relationships helps us lead a more satisfying and happy life. When I think about relationships, I think about the many different kind of relationships we may have in life. We may have relationships with fellow students while in school with the common thread of school and school activities. Then move on to work relationships with coworkers and business associates. We have relationships with family, friends and other people we meet along the way. We have relationships that are church, club or other organization related. 

This post will focus on relationships with neighbors. I grew up with my two sisters and parents on 26 acres out on a little gravel country road in Texas. Our closest neighbors were about a quarter mile away on their own 50 acres. Prior to that we lived in a trailer park for a year or so and I remember being friends with two other kids in the park and playing with them some. I was probably about 5 or 6 at the time, so the memories are a little fuzzy. In the trailer park I remember a neighbor who had a pristine lawn with a sign that said something to the effect of "stay off". There was an elderly man in the neighborhood, Mr. Wilson, that would have us kids in for popcorn. Now that I'm older and wiser, I wonder about Mr. Wilson's motives were with his friendliness towards young kids. I hope he was just a grandfather type who loved kids in 1970. 

Our country neighbor, Tom, that was a quarter mile down the country road and was a great guy. He was married and his kids were grown. We saw him all the time running up and down that country road in an old Toyota pickup. He loved fishing and took me on many fishing trips. He would stop by the house often and drop off ready-to-eat catfish and was just an all around good man. He took the time to take me fishing and allowed me to fish in his pond on his property. He acted the part of a grandpa at the time. My dad would help him with anything he needed and Tom would help my dad any way he could. You couldn't ask for a better country neighbor. 

Over the years we have moved around and lived in many different neighborhoods. When our kids were young, we usually lived in neighborhoods with similar aged families and kids. In one neighborhood, every nice evening would find several families, on the street, outside in lawn chairs watching the kids play. All of us enjoyed the time outside and enjoyed seeing each other at school functions and neighborhood social events. The neighborhood had a pool and we would see neighbors frequently at the pool. Other neighborhoods, that we have lived, found us barely knowing our next door neighbors. It seemed everyone was too busy to socialize and stayed inside when they were home. 

Our current neighborhood is full of people our age or older. There are very few kids playing around unless someone has grandkids over. Most appear to be retired and take great care of their homes. We have met some great people on our street, behind us and in the neighborhood. Our neighbors across the street recently moved and have their house up for sale. Another neighbor a few houses down is about to sell and move into a retirement center. So, we will be seeing some transition on the street. 

We know our neighbors, but aren't super close to them. A couple of them have stepped into our house, but we haven't really had any over for a party or dinner or anything. When our kids were young, we had Halloween, Christmas and other parties and enjoyed them very much. I know we need to reach out and build a closer relationship with a few of our current neighbors as they will probably be our neighbors for years into the future. I always come up with excuses of having too much to do, or it is too hot to visit in the backyard, or some other lame excuse. I need to just invite a couple over, have a coke and visit.

Our neighbor behind us is a Vietnam Veteran and is widowed and would have some great stories to tell, I'm sure. Our next door neighbor is a widow and probably would like some company and someone to talk to. Again, my wife and I need to make that effort to reach out and build those relationships. We need to get to party planning!

How close are your relationships with your neighbors? Do you have frequent meetings, parties, etc. with them? Do you have any neighbors that are also great friends? Any advice to share in building relationships with neighbors? And for fun, any of you have any horrible neighbor stories?