There is a famous saying “good fences make good neighbors” and the story I am about to share is an example of just that and then some.
When myself , my 2 young children and our pets moved back to the city after over a decade in the country I was very torn inside about the move. I was nice to be back close to friends and family. It was convenient to be close to all the amenities that the city had to offer such as medical services and children’s programs.
However, I was sad because I loved the peace, quiet, privacy and space that we had been so used to in the country. I knew at the time, being back in the city was in the best interest for my children and my self.
After a few months of house shopping in the city I finally found the house that I fell in love with. It had everything I was looking for including a very private and fenced back yard with the exception of the rear fence.
I decided when I saw the back yard that I would simply add to the top of the rear fence, therefore making my backyard a 100% private space for myself, my children and my pets. Perhaps that would make living in the city a little easier on all of us.
A few days after moving in my new house I was working in my backyard when I heard a voice calling for me from the other side of the rear fence. I walked over to the fence and an older gentleman who was in his mid 80’s introduced himself and his son.
He told me how happy he was that a young family had moved into the house behind him because he loved children. Senior told me to let my kids make as much noise as they wanted while they played and asked if it was okay with my permission if he could give my children some ice cream over the fence from time to time as he had done with the previous family. I said yes and thanked him for asking my permission first as I am careful how much sweets my children eat. I introduced my children to the Senior and Junior. My children immediately formed a bond with both of them.
The next few weeks that passed we got to know each other by talking every day over the fence. We joked that it was just like the show home improvement with Wilson talking over the fence at his neighbors.
I started standing on a chair so I could see over the fence to talk to my neighbors and then of course my children copied. When their playground was built one of my kids would stand in the tree house and the other on the chair to talk to my neighbors. I soon realized how nice my neighbors behind us were and I knew I didn’t need a privacy fence built.
It was summer when I moved in and since my children are home schooled they are home every day all year, most days playing outside when their school work and home schooling programs are finished.
Anyone who has met my 8 year old daughter knows that she likes to talk, a lot! She is just like me and will talk to just about anyone. This is why I have 2 dogs and 2 cats because if I am busy then she talks to her brother, if he doesn’t want to talk she calls her grandparents and if they are not home then she talks to the pets until they run away or fall asleep.
Now with 2 retired neighbors living on the other side of the fence my daughter had someone who would not only talk to her but also listen to her all day long. She talked to them so much that I was concerned that she was pestering them so I explained that the boys (Senior and Junior) had lots of work to do so she was only allowed to say hello once a day.
There are not many adults in this world like my neighbors who will talk to a child everyday and not get tired or annoyed. Senior was a retired wood working teacher for children with special needs and former cub scout leader. He is so incredibly patient, soft spoken, caring and understanding of my children. Junior is a highly educated, very intelligent man who can answer so many questions that my children have and has the patience not only to care for his father but to spend time talking with my children.
My children grew so attached to my neighbors they started drawing them pictures every day and introducing them to all their friends who came to our house for a play date.
They would share stories with Senior and Junior about what was going on in their lives and what they were studying in home schooling. My son even invited the Senior and Junior to his 6th birthday party and we were so pleased that they both attended.
One day my children were playing in the back yard when my daughter fell and started crying. Senior was working in his back yard on the other side of the fence and heard my daughter crying. He immediately set off in his wheelchair and came all the way around the block to our house very concerned to see if my daughter was all right.
My concern that my children were pestering my neighbors by talking to them all day were soon laid to rest by what happened next. That first fall in my house Senior approached me and said “ I wanted to ask you if it was okay if I build the children a small set of stairs and platform so they can stand at the fence and talk to me. I am scared they are going to fall out of the chair they are standing on” I thought it was a fantastic idea and told him that I was thinking the same thing, however building is not one of my strong qualities.
So father and son set off and spent weeks building a fantastic set of child size stairs and platform that they named “the look out.” We brought it over to my yard and on a very cold November day, Junior laid the patio slabs that I had and we set the stairs up. Now my children and my neighbors behind us can talk to each other without any worry of the kids falling off the chair.
My daughter one day asked Senior if he was ever lonely since his wife died (they would be married for 67 years if she was still alive!) he said yes he did get lonely and he missed his wife terribly. My 8 year old daughter said “when you get lonely, you can come to the fence anytime and I will talk to you” Senior said he never met a child like my daughter who was so caring and concerned about other people feelings, it brought tears to his eyes. They have been there for every one of my kids birthdays since we met them and attended their hockey games, dance recitals and routinely have my children over to help in the work shop, play cards, work in the garden or just to talk.
So as the saying goes “good fences make good neighbors” and in my case I have the best neighbors anyone could ask for. Now that they stairs are finished there is an ongoing discussion on the next project to tackle, it seems it’s a toss up between the rocket ship my son is building to fly to the moon , in which he invited Senior to join him on the trip or a set of stairs on the other side of the fence for Senior and Junior to stand on.