Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Joyce is 80-something and lives alone, next door to our old house in Cheshire. She has a sprinkling of grandchildren who appear occasionally, one flaky son, and two devoted daughters who come round and mow the lawn. She was a good neighbour, and always liked to chat over the fence and ask about our lives.

When we went up at the weekend, the children insisted we go straight round to say hello. We walked up her square garden that bursts into bloom every summer. After 4 or 5 knocks, Joyce finally made it to the heavy wooden door and slowly pulled it open. Daylight pushed its way in to help the single low watt lightbulb hidden under the mustard lampshade. The brown hall carpet is worn thin after decades of slippered feet padding to and fro. Velvet wallpaper is covered with fading paintings of roses and photos of long-gone relatives whose memories are fading now, too.

Joyce appeared in her knitted cardigan with her grey hair standing up on end, blinked from the daylight, and smiled from ear to ear. She put one arm round each child, hugged them close and didn't let go. "I miss you kicking your balls over my fence!" she laughed, and showed off her latest missing tooth.


  1. What a lovely surprise for her!
    And aren't old-lady-next-door-neighbours the best with your kids? No wonder they wanted to see her.

    Glad you had a good time.

  2. I have a neighbour across the road who is 90. She's totally chair-bound and has carers in three times a day to look after her, as well as a totally devoted family. There's hardly ever a time you can visit without meeting someone else from the neighbourhood being there too. The milkman goes in every day to put the milk in the fridge and keep her up with the local gossip because she can't get about any more.

    When my kids were little, she used to come over and baby-sit for us, or help out early in the morning if one of the kids were poorly and I had to take another child out to school. She'd wait with them until I came back. She always remembers birthdays, even now, and has dozens of grandchildren and great-grandchildren of her own.

    Even at her age, she's the hub of the neighbourhood, knows everyone and everything and is our own Neighbourhood Watch. If you want to know what's going on, you just have to pay a visit and she'll fill you in.

    She's so lovely.

  3. Aw, how nice that you got to pay her a visit. I'll bet she loved seeing you and your kids.

  4. She sounds lovely, and I bet you made her day!

  5. Great that you can make an old woman happy x

  6. I used to have a neighbour like that. We spent many an hour chatting over the garden fence. Don't know what we used to talk about now, but my kids loved her.

  7. What a lovely thing to do .. I dont know you all that well but from what I've come to know I would expect nothing less... you are a good person! If you werent I wouldnt do that stupid word verification thing THREE times before it took .. seriously THREE times .. and it ain't me what's typing the wrong letters .. its not working right .. ahem.. moving along now

  8. Swearing Mother, that lady sounds brilliant - what a character!

    Daryl e, sorry to hear it was such a pain in the neck to leave me a comment!!! Thanks for persevering.

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