We live next door to my in-laws. That’s right. Mama J. and Papa T. live right next door. In fact, we’ve lived side by side for twelve years. When I tell people that, they usually look at me like I’m crazy. Then they casually ask whether or not I like it. I like it just fine. The Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb” comes to mind. Just kidding! Oh, we’ve had our ups and downs over the years, and initially, it was kind of tough, but I am at peace with the set-up now. We had one knock down-drag out fight on their front porch that was a little ugly (okay, REALLY ugly), but it blew over pretty quick. I don’t even remember what started it. And our proximity has provided a few surprises along the way. Before Mama J.’s knees got so bad that she couldn’t navigate our back step, it was not uncommon to step out of the shower and find her sitting on the living room couch. I learned to put an ear to the door before parading down the hallway naked belting out “Hey, hey we’re the Monkeys”. More than once we’ve crept up on an intruder only to discover that it was Papa T. admiring our garden.
We bought our house because we liked the neighborhood and it fit our price range. I don’t think we put a lot of thought into the “living next door to your folks” aspect of the purchase, but I do think the Good Lord had a purpose in putting us there. Mama J babysat our daughter when Teen Angel was young, so it was handy to take her there in her jammies before work each morning. Wonderful arrangement. Later she got on and off the school bus at their house. She’s developed a really close relationship with her grandparents because they’re next door. She’s been a bright spot in their lives and a diversion from the grief they’ve suffered from burying a son and a grandson. On a lighter note, over the years, we’ve averted many a toilet paper crisis by running next door to swipe a roll. Throughout his career Papa T. got paid once a month, and Mama J. is still in the habit of buying a month’s worth of groceries and household supplies at a time. Her garage looks like Sam’s Club. We’ve borrowed laundry soap, garbage bags and a variety of other items I’m too embarrassed to admit that I don’t always have on hand.
As their health has declined the advantages of being next door have taken a more serious turn. We can react quickly when one of them falls and can’t get up. We know how they’re doing all day, every day, making it easier to catch changes in their condition. Hubby can better take care of their house and yard, and we know each morning if they’re up and about. We’ve become nosey neighbors, and they’re okay with that. We’ve kind of outgrown our house and have talked about moving, but we won’t. I think we’ll stay put for now. We like our neighbors.
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