Then, of course, every neighborhood has the “Mary Poppins” elder. Merrily working in the flower garden, smiles and sweet greetings to one and all…..cookies and candy for the kids….homemade gifts for everyone at Holidays. Frequent invitations to “stop in and have a coffee”…….the welcome plaque, decorated with multi-coloured wild flowers, centered on the front door for all to see.
Both quite near in age, how did they grow to be so different? Many of us, especially as we gather age unto ourselves, are happy to simply label and then ignore that which is uncomfortable or distasteful in our personal scheme of things. We navigate towards the easy, the “happy”, the effortless encounters.
We, too, settle into our own little backyards. Assume the position that we have no further need nor desire to understand, or deal with, that which doesn’t exactly “fit our bill”.
“What could we do about it anyway? Leave the problems up to the young ones, we’ve done our fair share.” Oft quoted sentiments of us in our advanced years.
Not that I have nor advocate a constant need to know all ……..but, at least, with those in close proximity, I want to know a little something of them. I want to be a part of the “village” so to speak, not just an observer. Though not always an accurate assessment, sometimes, “mean” or “good” does not show its true face.
Some years ago now, two neighbors , very much as described above, captured my interest.
As it turns out, the “meany” had been ostracized by his neighbors as he had” never been married” and “he must be one of those…. you know”.
Fact is, he had been married and had children before moving to this neighborhood. They had died in a horrible car crash and he never recovered from the loss. His initial solitude brought about the gossip, then the labeling, and the eventual bitter attitude of he himself.
And “Mary Poppins”? After her fourth husband seemed to simply disappear off the face of the earth, a bit of digging in those beautiful gardens turned up the skeletons that were definitely NOT in her closet.
So, for me anyway, no matter someone’s initial presentation, I try often to chisel my way below the surface, to get to genuinely know the person, before I choose whether to embrace them or tell them to bug off.
Silly or not, I consider myself a part of this 50’s plus neighborhood, so, if I seem too curious, bear with me, I just wish to be one of the villagers.