Mrs. Willie simply said hello

Frank and I had only been married about a year.  He had a great job with a  textile company and had just been 'promoted" to shift manager - wow, that was great news - a promotion!!!  The plant ran a day shift (8 am - 6 pm), a night shift (10 pm - 6 am), and a mini shift (6 pm - 10 pm).  Frank was moved to mini shift - sounds great!!!  He only works four hours a day - same pay as a 10-hour position, same benefits - wow.. this is great news..

Great news until we sat down at dinner one evening to plot out our new life on a calendar - yes, a paper one - it was 1986!  Our excitement for the four hours a day thought quickly diminished as we realized that his only day off was Wednesday (the plant ran through weekends), and since we lived an hour away, he would need to leave by 5 pm.  Working for the school district office, my hours were set at 8:30 am - 5:00 pm.  So I was home by 5:15 - hmmm.. not the best reality for a newlywed couple.

Some of you will remember that we had moved to South Carolina right after we married and when we drove into the state, I uttered, "I know one person in this entire state - Frank Wilder... I'm glad I liked him...

Thankfully, we had gotten involved in a local church, so there were great friends, but 5:30-11:00 pm became the loneliest time for me.  Cross-stitching became my evening pastime, and the television quickly filled in as my best friend.

Until that is... my neighbor knocked on the door.  We had moved in just a few weeks earlier... she brought a pie, of course - to welcome us to the street.  She introduced herself as Mrs. Willie - short for Willimina and that was that.  She often sat on her porch and would wave as I pulled in the driveway.  She noticed my feeble attempt at planting flowers and gently offered helpful ideas and suggestions.  She asked questions - easy ones... where were we from?  Tell me about your wedding... Do you have siblings?

Many evenings she cooked and would catch me coming in with a simple invitation - "have plenty tonight, come on over!"  Somehow there was always enough to bring leftovers for Frank back home.  She was a widow, her children were grown and lived away, and she was gracious.  Most every conversation across the driveway began with, "hello, Susan..."

Do you know your neighbors' names?  Funny "neighbor" has such a friendly, positive sound to the word, doesn't it?  But remember when the Lawyer questioned Jesus about the greatest commandment, he was looking for a debate... how could Jesus say that one commandment was greater than another... they would have Him - He would fail the test!

Jesus simply... directly... said love God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind... and love your neighbor.  Don't just love those neighbors, love them as you love yourself.

Teach them about flowers, know their names, take them a pie, invite them to your church this Easter ... maybe... just say hello.  Start there...  :)

Thank you, Mrs. Willie, for being my neighbor.

The house next door recently sold - I'll miss my friend, Linda; the new family should be moving in next week - better get baking...

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