Have mercy on me and bless him....

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.....Have mercy on me and bless him. Have mercy on me and bless him.

Ya'll pray for me, the most uncharitable woman you know. My next door neighbor is in the process of moving out. He is an elderly guy, with a lot of problems. He has zero family and is moving to be closer to his friends--a group of much younger men.

He has been a problematical (is that really a word?) neighbor, and while I worry about him (we have gone over to turn off his car alarm > 50 times) I won't be particularly sad when he is gone.

We have dogs. Barking dogs. But we don't leave them outside. They are inside dogs. We let them out to go potty. IF they happen to be outside while he is on his driveway, they bark at him through the fence. If it continues more than 2 minutes, we bring them in. We TRY to be good neighbors about it.

He throws sticks at them. We're not mad at him for that. We just bring the dogs in.

Now he has come over here to remonstrate with me. "Can't you control your dogs? I'm trying to move. And who is this little boy? (I'm keeping Christopher, a little friend, today. He's been in the house playing video games, not outside yelling or anything)" All said in a very mean voice, with much eye-rolling.

I know he isn't aware of how he is acting. But it took every ounce of virtue I had left to smile and say, "I heard the dogs. I brought them in the house. They will not bother you."

To be met with, "Hummmph. Some people!" And a stomping off my porch and across my yard.

Oh, dear.

Dearest Jesus, have mercy on me, and bless him.


Yes! That is a heroic act when you are literally shaking with rage (at least I would have been!).

You probably saved his day. If he leans toward cranky, and was stressed out about moving, and going to accelerate his crankiness by taking it out on his neighbor, then you were charitable, and it gave him pause, THEN, you saved his day from spiraling out of control. Good work.

I wonder why you say he isn't aware of how he's acting. In my experience, many people know they're being mean. They just don't care. There are a very few elderly people who think that just becasue they've hit a certain number of years, the world needs to reorganize to their benefit. It's still heroic and Christian of you to be tolerant and to show restraint, but don't excuse him. Call it what it is. His behavior is mean-spirited.

There is much grace in you.

I don't understand the cranky old person thing. I mean, you have to know you're that much closer to meeting your Maker. I'm hoping I'm aware of it and wanting to be scoring some extra brownie points with the Big Guy.

You know what I'm betting (and it's pure speculation on my part), you said he didn't have family. He sees you and your growing family PLUS welcoming other children and he's envious. I wonder if he never built a family of his own, or if he did, was he as mean when he was younger and drive them away?

I dunno...

I mean, two minutes of dog barking would drive me nuts. Two minutes of dog barking is a lot of dog barking, AFAIC.

You never know -- you think he's a pain, and he may well be. But he thinks you're a pain, and, from his perspective, you probably are.

If you lived next to me, and I got two minutes of incessant dog barking several times a day, I'd call the cops. Or shoot them. So count your blessings.

Funny how we always think we're the ideal neighbors, but the truth is, no matter how responsible or great we think we are, someone else on the block is hiding some pretty nasty thoughts about us behind their cheery 'ol neighborly smiles. Someone thinks we're jerks because our gardens aren't up to par, or our lawns aren't cut regularly, or because we let the house go by one summer too many before getting it repainted, or because our teenagers play basketball in the drive while they're trying to get their toddler to nap, or because our older kids drive too fast or because their friends honk the horn when they come pick them up. We think we're the greatest thing going but our neighbor wishes we'd watch the little ones more closely because it's hard to see them darting in and out of the drive when he's backing up. We wish the dogs won't bark or crap or that the owners would pick it up before the hot sun has it reeking or attracting flies. We hate your ugly day lilies. We wish you'd trim your bushes. And on and on and on.

And, as bad as you think this guy is, you may get new neighbors that make him look like a candidate for sainthood.

We all do a million things that seem normal to us but are driving someone else nuts.

Dearest anon:

I think you are right about much of what you said. Life is like a rock tumbler; constant bumping up against one another is probably knocking some of our sharp edges off. At least I hope so.

And of course, it takes a deep breath and a prayer for grace when we live in community with anyone. The 50 times (seriously!) we ran over to help him turn off his car alarms were moments where we had to call on patience with him. As were all the times my hubby and son took him to places when he was confused and couldn't remember how to get where he was going, or turned on or off his computer because it got hung up. All times when patience was necessary, and required. We just see it as part of getting along.

Just one tiny note. Our dogs don't bark for 2 minutes straight every time we let them out. The only time they bark is if he is standing at the very back of his driveway (by his back fence), which happens like once a month, since he never parks that far back. (I mean, it really does take coincidence for him to be standing RIGHT THERE at the exact same time that I let our dogs out the 5 times a day they go out. And 1/2 those times I go out and sit on the porch ('cause it's a nice day!)--and they don't bark when I'm there.) And I really do know how often they bark, because I have to be here to let them out! (That is, I'm not minimizing it--not knowing what they do while I'm gone.)




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This page contains a single entry by MamaT published on May 26, 2005 3:14 PM.

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