The Neighbor

The girl sat at home alone; at least without human company, but the family cat was there.

At 10, she had become an expert at faking a sick day. The truth was she didn’t want to go to school. She had always been a bit of a square peg, and now with her family still reeling from a bitter divorce, facing her school friends with their in-tact families seemed a bit too daunting for a Monday. Money was tight for a single mother of four, especially when said mother happened to be employed as a waitress. A day off to care for a sick child was not really an option when you worked for tips.

Her mother reluctantly left her youngest child home alone, knowing there were neighbors next door and across the street the girl could call in case of an emergency.

The girl was enjoying her solitude. She was ordinarily a talkative, outgoing child, but lately wasn’t really feeling that way. She was perfectly content with the company of the television and the family cat, Nicky.

Nicky was another matter. After an expensive series of treatments for feline leukemia, he was finally in remission. He represented the life before her dad announced (on Christmas day, no less) that he was leaving. Nicky was a reminder of a family unbroken – Dad, Mom, sisters, brother, dog and cat. Perhaps that was too much to expect from a cat, but as the girl sat there with the cat purring in her lap, she felt comforted.

That is, until the cat fell from her lap and onto the floor. He began to pant and become limp. Terrified, she did the first thing that came to her mind. She called Mrs. Jones.

The Jones family lived two doors down. Their youngest daughter was friends with the girl’s older sister. They were a good, Christian family who always seemed to be doing something for someone else. Mrs. Jones was one of the kindest, most sincere people that the girl had ever met in her young life. Even though the neighbors obviously knew what was going on in that house, the girl never felt judged or pitied by Mrs. Jones – only loved.

The girl dialed the Jones house, said something incoherent into the phone through her tears and hung up. Mrs. Jones was there in a matter of minutes. She embraced the young girl and told her it was going to be okay. She then calmly wrapped the cat into a towel, and walked with the girl and the cat the short distance to her driveway.

The girl sobbed quietly on the way to the vet. She knew that Nicky would not be making the return ride home in the car. Alas he did not, but Mrs. Jones was there. And somehow that made the ride home much more bearable.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, that little girl was me. As I sat at the funeral of Mrs. Jones over 30 years later, I reflected upon how on that day and on countless other days for countless other people, her kindess and love reflected the Love of Christ. She really understood about that kind of love. I am so grateful for people in my life like Mrs. Jones.

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27 Responses to “The Neighbor”

  1. Shark Bait June 2, 2009 at 3:08 am #

    >I will not cry.
    I will NOT cry!!

    Oh crap! There I go.

  2. Anne L.B. June 2, 2009 at 3:20 am #

    >What a blessing it will be for you and I to see Mrs. Jones in heaven!

  3. BeckeyZ June 2, 2009 at 5:21 am #

    >Wow, I hope I can be a “Mrs. Jones” to people in my life. What a touching story.

  4. Billy Coffey June 2, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    >Holy cow that was a great story! I’ve always thought God sent angels into our lives, and that’s exactly what Mrs. Jones was.

    I like ranting Katdish and silly Katdish and Twitter Katdish, but I REALLY like literary Katdish.

    More, please.

  5. Annie K June 2, 2009 at 7:52 am #

    >Wow Katdish. Can you write this stuff more often?

    Awesome post friend….

  6. Nitewrit June 2, 2009 at 8:03 am #

    >Aren’t we grateful for the Mrs. Joneses of our lives?

    Larry E.

  7. Steph @Red Clay Diaries June 2, 2009 at 8:25 am #

    >Hey! Glad I found time to read some blogs this morning. Great post. You didn’t mention this, but based on my own experience, when your cat went limp, it represented so much more than losing a pet. Symbols of “before” are so hard to let go of.

    What a gift from God Mrs. Jones was in that situation.

    I’m with Billy – More, please. 😉

  8. Helen June 2, 2009 at 8:31 am #

    >Wow. When I grow up, I want to be just like Mrs. Jones. She was a real blessing. Her memory still is….
    This was an excellent post. Very touching…

  9. sherri June 2, 2009 at 8:53 am #

    >Makes you want to keep up with the Joneses, doesn’t it?

    Makes me think of Donald Miller’s line that he felt Jesus would invite him over, ask him to sit down, ask him his story, explain to him why his Dad left and tell him of the many ways How God had been taking care of him all these years.

    God was looking out for Kathy even when seemingly alone in a desparate situation. he’s so good.

  10. Beth June 2, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    >I think sometimes we forget that kids really are PEOPLE who will remember things for the rest of their lives and understand and feel far more than we think they can…I’m glad Mrs. Jones knew that and gave love when you most needed it! Beautifully written, Kathy.

    Also, Mr. Jones and Me by Counting Crows is now lodged in my head and won’t leave??

  11. Jewda June 2, 2009 at 9:15 am #

    >I haven’t been this choked up since reading an article about how good the Red Wings are. Sadly, I’m serious. I got choked up from both. I guess I’m a big fan, and now, a converted cat hater. We’ve put down 2 since getting married, and it is awful.

    Good stuff.

  12. Candace Jean July 16 June 2, 2009 at 9:16 am #

    >Wish I’d had read this before I got all mascara-ed up for work. Dang! Beautiful. More 10 year olds need to see and FEEL Jesus in all of us like that. Hugging you from afar, and so appreciating YOUR gratitude for Mrs. Jones.

  13. Jeff June 2, 2009 at 10:03 am #

    >Without a doubt, you crack me up. And yes, you should have an honorary doctorate in sarcasm.

    But right in the midst of that stuff, your life reflects that which you admired in Mrs. Jones. Your kindness and love reflect Christ.

    I know, because I get to see it all the time. Great post.

  14. jasonS June 2, 2009 at 10:10 am #

    >I can’t whether it’s because I got up too early, but that was very emotional! Absolutely great post. What an encouragement to remember those who have helped and also to be one who helps. Wonderful.

  15. Jennifer June 2, 2009 at 10:12 am #

    Reminds me of what it really means to be a “neighbor.”

    Say, Katdish, you’ve got “thing” (technical term) going on today with your blog — something that has been happening out and about the blogging world. I try to come here, and it says “Operation Aborted” and kicks me off the blog. If I hit the back button, I can get back on, but otherwise, I’m having trouble connecting.

  16. Marni June 2, 2009 at 10:15 am #

    >What Shark Bait said…

    God bless you Mrs. Jones. I can’t wait to get to meet you one day.

  17. ~*Michelle*~ June 2, 2009 at 12:03 pm #

    >Wow…..fighting back the tears and wiping boogies.

    Sounds like it will be a joy to dance on the streets of Gold with Mrs. Jones someday!

  18. katdish June 2, 2009 at 12:33 pm #

    >Thanks, everyone.

    I do have more stories like this, they’re not harder to write, just harder to share. But I will, promise.

  19. Funnyrunner June 2, 2009 at 12:35 pm #

    >For goodness’ sake; I wasn’t wearing water proof mascara…

  20. Peter P June 2, 2009 at 12:44 pm #

    >I second what Billy said!

  21. Helen June 2, 2009 at 1:15 pm #

    >katdish, when you are ready, we will still be here…
    Love you. And Mrs. Jones.

  22. Joanne Sher June 2, 2009 at 1:25 pm #

    >Oh, Kat – what an incredible story – and what a wonderful writer you are. YOu definitely choked me up. What a wonderful “Jesus” you had in Mrs. Jones.

  23. maryrussell June 2, 2009 at 6:38 pm #

    >Katdish, Katdish…

    Losing people sucks. We as Christians should remember that. Yes, I’m stoked I get to see my dad and other loved ones one day, but right now, alone, that sucks.

    Thank God for Mrs. Jones and the chances we have everyday to be Christ, to be love to people who need it.

  24. Wendy June 2, 2009 at 6:45 pm #

    >That was a great post! Makes ya want to be someone else’s Mrs. Jones, huh?

  25. Nick the Geek June 2, 2009 at 7:30 pm #

    >Hey things have been crazy busy so I haven’t been commenting but I have been reading. Just thought you would like to know I’m alive.

  26. vanityofvanities June 2, 2009 at 9:46 pm #

    >Praise God for Mrs. Jones.

  27. Anne L.B. June 4, 2009 at 12:05 pm #

    >Wendy, you are SO right on.

    Katdish, your post has stuck with me. I'm encouraged to not bypass opportunities for small acts of kindness which may carry a value far beyond what they cost.

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