Archive for November 16th, 2007

The road to a friend’s house is never long.

Friday, November 16th, 2007

There is a common saying: The road to a friend’s house is never long.

This afternoon I plan to drive about three hours south, through blustery weather, and the dreaded Seattle traffic, to take a daughter to rendezvous with her older brothers for a trip to northern California. When we arrive we’ll share a bite to eat and some visiting time with some old neighbors who we met over 25 years ago. Once there, I will admit the truth of that saying once again, The road to a friend’s house is never long.

My former neighbor Merry was like a mom to me when Rick and I were first married. I had no relatives or friends nearby, since I relocated to marry Rick. If I had any cooking or cleaning questions (or eventually, baby care questions), Merry was a witty and cheerful dispenser of homely wisdom. She shared her great recipes and household tips over a good, strong cup of tea. I looked forward to our daily visits, but was mortified when Merry had to tell me, “Don’t come over until my curtains are open!”

Merry sometimes arose late because she had trouble getting enough sleep at night due to the pain of a degenerative bone disease. I still remain amazed at Merry’s cheerfulness in the face of constant pain. Even in her discomfort, it seems Merry is continually on the look-out for someone who needs hospitality, or a helping hand.

Of course, I didn’t always go to Merry’s house. Sometimes she would come next-door to mine, and I would do my best to show hospitality to her as well. As we visited, she would go to my ‘fridge, supposedly to look for cream or some such thing, but REALLY she was scoping out what kind of diet we were eating. In those early days, cash was sometimes tight, so I didn’t buy much meat. Merry noted that fact, and within a few days, I would get a phone call: “You won’t believe the mix-up over here! I got a roast out to defrost for dinner, and then Ken got one out, too, so you’ll have to help me out and take one of the roasts!” You know she told him, “Ken, get an extra roast out of the freezer. Those kids aren’t eating enough protein!”

When our first child was about nine months old, I became pregnant with our twin girls. (We didn’t find out we were expecting twins until about seven months along.) I was having so much trouble carrying those babies. For the first three months, every time I stood up, I would start bleeding. Also, Rick was away from home most of the time, working on a large, distant construction project. Never fear, though, Merry was near!

Since Merry’s back was so bad, she couldn’t lift our chubby nine-month old son, so Ken would come over before work to lift Philip out of bed. Merry was then able to care for the little boy. I would quickly move from my bed to the couch, probably with a book in hand (I don’t remember), and Merry would visit with me while watching Philip and doing some neatening up around the house and the laundry. Dear readers, Merry did this for three months, with such a nonchalant, cheerful attitude, that I knew she loved me, and was glad to do it.

Of course I could go on and on, enumerating the good deeds of my old neighbor. But, I just wanted to give you a little idea of the reason that the road to Merry’s house is never long. We will chatter like magpies when we’re together, hardly allowing one another the space to speak, picking up our tea-time conversation as if it was just yesterday.