Neighbors = Family
Just across the street, there is a home that within its 2x4’s and drywall holds something so dear to my heart.
Let’s start with how I came to know this home with treasures within.
Back in 2015, my family, consisting of two boys ages 8 and 4, along with my husband, packed up our home and moved to Franklin, Tennessee.
My husband had been living in a hotel for a few months while I packed up our belongings for the long move across the country.
When we first arrived at our new Franklin home, a horrible ice storm had grasped the region, it was cold, sleeting rain, and creating all sorts of weather anomalies we were not prepared for. Our moving truck had arrived on time and we had hired a few guys to help us unload everything. What crazy cold weather dominated that day.
When we were done throwing the furniture in our new home that we should have just left in our old home, and I had paid our strong movers, a knock sounded on our door. Who in the world could that be, we know no one here? There stood the sweetest face with blonde hair, in a much-needed yellow raincoat and rain boots. In her hands, she held a small basket full of snacks, hot chocolate packets, little biblical scripture gifts, and a welcome card. I’ll admit, my first hardened, big-city thought was, “What does she want?” When I closed the door on this lady, with the basket in my hands, I began to cry a few tears of joy. That was it, that was the moment I realized a prayer had been answered in our lives. This is what my soul needed, a neighbor that cared. Even though she didn’t know anything about me, she extended an olive branch that opened a whole world for me and my family.
As soon as I could, I baked them a full sheet of cinnamon rolls, and since then, we have been more than just neighbors.
In the following five years, we bonded with this beautiful family of five. Their sweet oldest son was idolized by my youngest. Their youngest girl pushed my son to play silly games with her all the time, which he begrudgingly loved. My oldest son bonded with their middle child of the same age and they quickly became the best of friends.
As for the adults, we shared dinners with each other, impromptu firepit and s’mores gatherings, drinks on each other’s lawns, shared holiday meals, taco night out, and church outings. When it snowed, we’d all congregate in the middle of the road and enjoy a most needed gathering with hot coffee in hand; our kids screaming with joy at the magic of a snow day. We formed bible study groups together and neighborhood mom outings. We got to know each other’s extended family, and their parents became our parents.
If we went out to our cars, no doubt you’d hear a catcall whistle or a “hey lady!” An attempt to drive out of our street would often divert into a chat through the car window for a minute or 15 minutes with each other. Wisecracks were exchanged daily, and so was the love, “I miss you! We need to get together soon!”
I would like to say that these neighbors who are now apart of our family is a rare occurrence. But from the many folks I have been fortunate to meet here in Franklin, it is just the opposite. There is something magical about Franklin and the people who live here. Is it that we all want to grasp whole-heartedly at what is truly good in life? Community, friendships, love? I still have yet to put my finger on it. But if you are looking for something good in life, you’ll find it here.
Since my sentimentality is getting the better of me, I will say that my beloved neighbors have just accepted an offer on their home and sold it to a young family from NY, whom I am sure we will get to know well, and they will be most warmly welcomed. But it has been the most bittersweet hurdle to jump. We want so bad to keep things the same, to hold on tight to what is good in our lives. Sometimes we are shocked to find that other people in our lives are changing, their needs become necessities, and hard decisions must be made. So it is with the heaviest of hearts that we will put on a graceful smile and accept this big change, and say goodbye to this ethereal chapter in our neighborhood. Although they are only moving closer to Nashville, a few minutes up the interstate, it feels like a million miles in my heart. I will never forget the sounds of our children laughing with such pure delight and innocence together on our lawns, the bikes zooming up and down the driveways and shouts of crazy childhood plans.
Our neighborhood is growing up, it’s changing. Next, our kids will be heading to college. It’s just another stage in life we will always be nostalgic about.
To my family across the street, I am so blessed to have had you as a part of my first Franklin experience. Had it not been for the community we created together, the community we yearned for, I am not sure I could have loved living in Franklin as much as I do.
So you’ll have to pardon me as I go and prepare my heart to make a sheet of cinnamon rolls for my next neighbors across the street.