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A Guest Post by Cousin Gayle Neuhaus

My Next Door Neighbor

A shiver raced through me.  Those eyes were again peering from behind the flimsy curtain.  Always eyeing my little brother.  Always eyeing me.

One day I was outside alone.  This tiny, shriveled up old lady left her post behind the curtains, appearing in her yard.  Without a word, she beckoned me into her spooky house.  I blindly followed.

Her front room was almost bare of furniture.  She motioned me to sit in a straight backed chair along the north wall.  She slowly crept across the room and eased herself into a rocking chair by The Curtained Window.

I faced her.  She looked towards that window.  She rocked the chair to and fro.  Not a word was said.  She rocked.  I watched.  Time passed.  The sun came in the window, making dust motes float around her.  Still she rocked.  Still I watched.

How did I escape?  I don’t remember.

A Few months later, her house was empty.  “Old Lady Erickson” was gone.  I never knew her first name, or anything about her, if she had died or where she was buried.

Not long ago, I was visiting my Oleson relatives in the Winnetoon cemetery.  Guess who was buried in the next row?  “Old Lady Erickson.”

Now, as an adult, I met her as Martha.  She is buried beside her husband and, sadly, her only child.  Elief Christian, her son, died when not quite three months old.  Her husband died 22 years before Martha.

No words, thoughts, or hopes were shared between us that day so long ago.  Yet, for a short time, Martha had a young visitor.  Maybe the time I spent with her back then gave her some comfort.  I hope so.

Young Martha & older Martha

Young Martha & older Martha

Elief Christian Erickson

Elief Christian Erickson

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