Thursday, March 6, 2014

Hometown Memories: The Grim-Faced Neighbour

On the street I grew up on, there lived a very grim-faced neighbour. In all the years I was there, I swear I never saw her smile. Even when she was having a friendly conversation with someone, her facial expression remained stern. When I was a kid, her humorlessness really intimidated me, and I steered clear of her.

As I get older, I think about the people that once lived inside these homes.

Several times a week, early in the morning, and no matter the season, she could be found outside tidying up the front of her home. With a sweater on, slippers on her feet, and a broom in hand, she’d methodically sweep, sweep, sweep away the dust from her front door all the way to the sidewalk. This went on for several years.

The front of her home was one of the cleanest in the neighbourhood.

She was not very fond of me, although I didn't find this out until many years later. I was very quiet and kept to myself, and apparently she didn't like that. I wasn't sociable enough for her like my older brother (the extroverted extrovert) was. One day she said to my mother “Your daughter is not nice. Not friendly.  Such a cold girl. Oh, but your older son...the best.” The things we introverts go through...

Like the woman who once lived here, we are all just passing through.

She lived in that home for decades; from the time my family and I moved into that neighbourhood in the mid 60s up until last year when, according to my mother, she was taken away in an ambulance one day, and never returned home again. It remains unknown what happened to her, or whether she’s still alive. This is one of my mom's lifelong neighbours; people that she has grown old with. Each one with their own unique story. And one by one they are leaving the neighbourhood. Such is life.

Have a lovely Thursday, everyone.

36 comments:

  1. Morning, Martha... I woke up at 4:30 this morning ... laid in bed for a bit thinking ...rats ~ I'm awake but what's to do? clean? hah!

    wandered into the Living Room ... sat. opened my blinds and watched my neighbors leave for work around 5:30 ... wondering about their commute. remembering the many many MANY mornings of commuting to work.

    made coffee at 6am ... no sun but daylight was breaking. very quiet except for the few cars of my neighbors going to work ... birds are out and the squirrels. it's drizzly rain

    Turned on my computer and your blog popped up... and well, after a couple of hours of being mellow and wondering and pondering ... interesting that you wrote of neighbors and that we are all just passing through....

    yep

    Being an extrovert does not mean I enjoy interacting with neighbors. I am friendly but I avoid one neighbor in particular ... an older than me woman who has something to say about everybody ... she's lived here for eons and has seen many neighbors come and go and will tell you the history of it all... !

    AND 9 outts 10 times, very gossipy stuff... not my thing. when I walk, I try to pick times she won't be about .. but blast almighty! each and every time I do... there she is...

    Anyway... thanks for a coffee drinking good morning blog to get my thinking and nostalgic juices moving along ;)

    I hope we have a wonderful day ... be interesting if I hoped we didn't... ha

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    1. I don't know whether she was an introvert or extrovert; I never really got to know her. But she always seemed so angry, or bitter. And I know that extroverts don't always feel like interacting with everyone. We all avoid people that we don't like, or people that are toxic. And like you, gossipy stuff is not my thing. I stay clear of it as much as I can.

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  2. 'Such is life' - so true Martha. Life is filled with little bits and pieces that seem to have no rhyme or reason and yet have become part of our inner fabric. And so what more can we say but 'such is life'. Loved this look back.

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    1. That's about all we can say, Francie. These moments, no matter how odd or insignificant they may seem, play a role in our lives.

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  3. You've made me think this morning of some of our old neighbours when I was a kid. You're right -- there's some blog-worthy stuff there!

    And those damn extroverted extroverts! Always hogging the good press.

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    1. Hahaha... Yes, those damn extroverted extroverts...

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  4. As Thomas Wolfe said, "You can't go home again." Life moves on, and so do we. Fine story and photos.

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    1. That's a great quote. Yes, life certainly does move on.

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  5. Maybe the grim-faced lady didn't want you to grow up to be like her. Interesting story!

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    1. Anything is possible, Sherry. You never know what's inside each person.

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  6. Thinking of you as unkind, is an insult to all the goodness inside of you, that she couldn't see that, that she needed words to prove you like her, well it was her loss. 'Cause you are one hell of a nice person! from one Introvert to another

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    1. Thanks, Lorraine. We can't please everyone, and I certainly don't care to. She had her opinion of me, and in the big scheme of things, it doesn't really matter what it is.

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  7. interesting look back. Terrible being the misunderstood introvert, lol.

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  8. Ah the extroverted extroverts, of which i am not one. More than once i've been accused of being 'not nice' or a 'snob.'. Oh well. :). This is a great post, Martha. It has me thinking of many ex-neighbors i could blog about. Alas, some are still neighbors of my parents and know i blog. Lol

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    1. Being accused of not being nice, or being a snob, is all part of the territory. In my younger years this bothered me, but now that I'm older, I don't care at all.

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  9. Seriously? The grim-faced neighbour had a lot of nerve saying that. What did your mom say?

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    1. My mom didn't take everything the neighbours said or did to heart. That's how she got along with them. She figured this woman had her own quirks, this being one of them, and arguing with her would be futile. My mom just listened, shrugged and went home. She was very good at picking battles that were worth it.

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  10. So many stories disappearing! I look at people in old, faded pictures and think about how they were once so alive and now there is just this image and no one remembers anything about the person in it. I wonder why she was grim-faced. Have a great Friday!

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    1. I don't know her story, Louise, but I'm sure she has one. There is always a reason why people behave this way.

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  11. My goodness, she really was a grim person to say such an unkind think about you, Martha.
    Maybe she was truly an unhappy person.
    I think that being mean comes from not liking ourselves all that much.
    Having a clean house did not seem to have her disposition, huh?

    Such an interesting story.
    Thanks for sharing and keep smiling :)
    x

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    1. I think she was an unhappy person, too, Margie. If anything, she was an interesting person. That's one reason I still remember her so well.

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  12. Oh I loved watching /observing some of the characters in my childhood neighbourhood. There were some real odd ones I tell you! And of course good ones too.
    I wonder what this neighbour of yours was trying to 'sweep away' every day? She must have found some sort of peace in doing this. Or, she was a neat freak! Such is life.

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    1. She probably did find some peace in that sweeping, Jim. I'm sure she had her own story that made her who she is. It can't be fun going through life being unhappy.

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  13. I wonder what people's stories are. I wonder what has happened in their lives to bring them to the way they are now. I heard a lot of things while growing up because I was introverted. Because I am Autistic. Though I did not know that then. People did not like the fact that I whispered when I spoke and did not look at them in the eyes and kept much to myself. People misunderstood my quietness and "odd behaviors", well, what they thought as odd, as being aloof, awkward (well, that was right) and so on. My sister was the extrovert in the family.

    In our neighborhood I am watching everyone grow older and some are no longer with us anymore. It saddens me to see the change. It is life. I know. But still it is no less difficult, this change. This growing older.

    Introspectively with hugs and blessings, Bird

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    1. I wonder, too, what has happened in their lives to make some people so bitter. You just never know what's going on behind closed doors.

      Yes, growing older is not easy. But it happens. At the very least, we can make the best of the time we have here.

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  14. what an interesting post! wonder what happened to her? .... but you, not nice? well clearly she didn't know you at all!

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    1. I have no idea what her story is, but I do know she had some problems with her daughter. I think she had cut ties with her, and never saw her. Not sure why, but that would be something that would make a person unhappy.

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  15. Since you still have connections to the neighborhood you grew up in, you notice the changes and what has stood there longest.

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  16. The story reminds me of what my aunt did. She called the house when I was in middle school asking for my mom. She said I had rude phone skills and complained like crazy to my mom about it.

    Though in my defense, this aunt I later found out had a long history of mental illness and because of this she would get to be a very mean woman.

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    1. That's a good example of there being a story behind someone's odd behaviour. I try not to jump to conclusions when people behave a certain way. It's not always easy, but I do try.

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  17. It is strange that we get judge, without any real evidence, from a single look… I don’t know this lady but I will think that if you were the kind of girl playing loudly in front of her house… she would have say that you were making too much noise and she didn’t like you.

    I feel bad for her, there must have been something happening to her that made her loose her smile!

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    1. Richard, you are probably right. I think that she may have disliked other people (or kids) in the neighbourhood for a variety of reasons. In my younger years, her attitude, and what she said about me, would just ruffled my feathers, but now that I'm older, it doesn't bother me. And I also feel bad for her, because it can't be much fun living that way.

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  18. So sad how people assume that iuntroverts are cold and unfriendly. Such a sterotype and misconception.

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    1. That is very true. Perhaps with all the information that's out there about introverts people will have a better understanding of that personality type.

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