As twenty-something newlyweds, we left apartment life in Denver and bought a bungalow in a small mountain town. Our new next-door neighbors were women well beyond that “certain age.”
Lottie, in the white frame house on our left, was ninety-three and had outlived three husbands. Her unsteady legs kept her home-bound but she was interested in everything. She watched the children walk by on their way to and from school each day to keep up with the latest youthful fashion fads. She never missed the morning news on the radio and evening news on television and family members dropped in daily. Lottie knitted lap robes for “those poor old folks down at the nursing home” and always had an unusual story from the daily news to share when we dropped in to "sit a spell."
On our right lived Mary and Tommy—or so we thought. Although we heard Tommy’s name in every over-the-back-fence conversation, we never caught so much as a glimpse of him through the windows. We assumed he might be confined to bed. We lived there six months before we discovered Tommy had been dead for twenty-five years. Mary's stories were about the old days with Tommy. They got married in secret because she was a nurse and nurses were expected to remain single and live in a dormitory. When we knew her, Mary was an energetic woman in her late eighties who never had visitors. The first time it snowed, we woke to hear scraping sounds outside our window: Mary was shoveling our front walk.
Mary and Lottie offered sharp contrast between clinging to the past and embracing the future. Yet, they were two independent and mutually supportive women. Mary did Lottie’s errands, walking to the grocery, the bank, the post office, and shops in the business district just five blocks from home. Lottie welcomed Mary to tea and conversation at her kitchen table and holiday meals with her family.
Through many moves in the past quarter century, Mary and Lottie are the next-door neighbors we never forgot.
Causes Cynthia Becker Supports
Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region