Down the street from Downton Abbey
Today as I was watching Downton Abbey it made me think of the neighbor I had when I was first married. Downton Abbey takes place in England during the early 1900’s. It has lots of lords and ladies, butlers and governesses, cooks and maids. My neighbor was a little, elderly Scottish lady and she, herself, had been in charge of a wealthy home for most of her life. She was VERY proper and I was very much a child of the 60’s! We were like two worlds colliding BUT, for some reason, she loved me. I know I, unintentionally, offended her delicate sensibilities on a daily basis. Sometimes I was aware of the offense but because of the way I had grown up … most of the time I was not. I was young and I was oblivious.
I remember her coming home on many occasions to find me lying at the bottom of the apartment steps sunbathing in my bikini. This proper, Scottish lady would practically have to step over me to go up to her apartment, (Just one of my many obliviously rude moments!) and yet she loved me. She didn’t love my improper bikini or the fact that I was actually trying to get sun on my face, (she, as a proper lady, hid from the sun) but she loved me. On one occasion I gave her grapes with her lunch and she was quick to inform me that at the home in which she had been in charge, she would have NEVER served grapes without peeling them first! (Wait! What? I had NEVER even HEARD of THAT!) And while she didn’t love the grapes skins… she loved me. I couldn’t even count the numerous failed attempts at making her a good cup of tea. She, being Scottish, had the knack for getting it right each and every time, whereas I seemed to totally lack … the knack. Although my tea was a big disappointment more times than not, and although she did not love it… she loved me.
Well this little neighbor became part of our family. She lived with us from the time she was 90 until she was 100 and my children had the amazing blessing of growing up with this incredible woman in their lives. That proud Scottish lady took us into her heart and accepted us just the way we were. She never tired of the kids sitting in her room watching TV with her, or my daughter (who is, in fact, named after her) polishing her nails with the “newest, BRIGHTEST, MOST amazing color”! She loved to hear my son practice his drums and she loved for him to read to her from her bible at the end of the day when her eyes were tired. Our home was very different than what she was use to but she loved… us. She didn’t love the cats but she loved… us. She didn’t love the dogs or the hamsters or the ducks or the turtles, BUT she loved us. She just… loved us.
And to think it all started many moons ago when that little Scottish lady came over to introduce herself to me as I was hanging my husband’s ridiculously wild “band outfits” draped along the apartment banister to dry in the sun. I know now that she must have been mortified by my lack of (apartment life) manners but that didn’t stop her from reaching out to this young girl to simply… love me.
So maybe look around today. You may not have to look far at all. Maybe, just maybe, there is someone right there that you are gonna absolutely love! They will be a gift to you, and you will be a gift to them. But don’t be put off by the way your gift is “wrapped”. My neighbor’s “wrapping” was quite wrinkled and gray and my “wrapping” was quite wild and untamed!
Listen. What if someone gave you a present in a box? What if you never bothered to go beyond the outside wrapping to look inside? You would miss the gift. Well people are the same way. You have to go past the outside wrapping in order to see the gift they really are and into their beautiful hearts. Group hug.