Being a Good Neighbor (Memories from Oaklawn Drive)

Recently, I recalled a childhood memory and it began a journey in my mind back in time.  The earliest childhood memory I have is of my sister, Chopper (MaryBeth) coming home from the hospital and holding her.  I was only 2 years old and 9 months at the time.  But, I remember clearly holding her and looking at her tiny little baby face.  That is my only memory of time before my parents built a house at the end of Oaklawn Drive.

Oaklawn Drive was a small subdivision in Midland, MI.  My parents and their closest friends, my mom’s cousins, Rick and Di Boomer, helped build that house.  I remember my dad and Rick mixing cement and laying bricks while I played in the sand pile.  That house at the end of the street brings back many found memories.  We lived next door to my great grandparents, and whenever my mom told us to go check on them or to borrow something from them, we gladly went, because grandma would give us something good to eat, usually mashed potatoes.  I recall playing in the streets with the neighborhood kids, and I remember learning to ride a two wheeler.  I remember purposely walking through Mrs. Zimmerman’s yard in hopes that she would see and bring out a cookie.

But my favorite memories of living on Oaklawn Drive were not at my house, or even in my own yard, no most of my favorite memories of life on Oaklawn Drive happened at my friend Ginger’s house.  My mom was a busy foster mom, and I was a very hyper child.  Looking back, now as a mom, I wonder if Ginger’s mom new what a blessing she was to my mom, and to me.  Here are a few of my favorite memories of time spent at Ginger’s house.

I lived on Oaklawn Drive from age 3 to 8.  It was a relatively safe neighborhood, and I remember walking down to Ginger’s house almost every day.  Her mom had to remind me often of the rules and when it was ok to come over.  She was always very patient, because I would come over before school, after school, and all hours on the weekend.  One school day, I remember getting to Ginger’s house too early.  Which often happened. I think I hoped that her mom would give me something good to eat, she was always baking and cooking.  We on the other hand, almost always ate cereal for breakfast.  Anyway, I arrived at Ginger’s house early and she was not ready to walk to the bus stop yet.  So, I was waiting in the kitchen as she continued to get ready for school.  Then all of a sudden her dad starts loudly calling to us that he sees a bear outside the back window near their back deck.  We all run into the family room to look out the window, and he laughs and says, “April Fools.”  I was so surprised because I often was a little nervous and scared around her dad, because he was a big dad, and seemed very serious all the time.  I remember his smile that day, just like it was yesterday.

Another fond memory of Ginger’s dad was the winter he helped us build snow forts.  They were the coolest snow forts ever.

One year, Ginger and I collect acorns and tried selling them at the end of her driveway.

A memory I have of Ginger’s mom was when I got caught stealing chives from her garden.  I remember how kind and gentle she was when she told me that if I wanted to eat them I needed to ask first.  She also told me that if she caught me stealing again, I would have to go home and not come back for the whole day.

I have many other memories of spending time with Ginger and her family.  But you know what I don’t remember vividly.  I don’t have any clear vivid memories of her parents speaking the gospel to me, or reading the Bible with us.  I actually know that there were times when I was at their house and they did read the Bible, but those are not the memories that stuck and sunk deep into my mind.

I have been pondering that for a few days.  The truth is Ginger’s parents were and are clearly believers in God, and followers of Jesus Christ.  As a little girl, I saw the love of Jesus in their home and in their lives.  I loved being in their house.  It felt safe and peaceful.  I loved the structure and rules of their home, and the way they enforced the rules.  I honestly can’t tell you of a time when they talked about God, but I can tell you that their was clearly a Godly lifestyle being live out daily.

I was a very hyper little girl who probably asked a lot of questions, and didn’t always remember the rules.  I am certain Ginger’s mom must have gotten frustrated with me at times,  but I do not recall those times.  No, I remember planting seeds in her gardens,  baking in her kitchen, spending the night and playing games.

I realize now what a patient woman, Ginger’s mom truly was.

I want to be a good neighbor like that.  I actually live in the country, but I can still be a good neighbor to my community.  To the people in my church, homeschool groups, extended family, and even to my actual neighbors.  I have people in my life that can be a handful to be around, I hope and pray that I can be patient and loving, and show Godly love to them.  Children and adults need to feel welcomed, loved, and safe.

I hope when people enter my home they feel just as loved as I have always felt when I enter into my friend, Ginger’s parents home.

Thanks Gary and Jo for setting a Godly example.

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