On Monday, I wrote about a secret in my old neighborhood that was eventually brought to light. See here. Today, I’m going to write about a memory that involved the same parties. Once again, the names have been changed for obvious reasons.
We all have childhood memories. Some we cherish, some are painful, and some are just downright strange. Unlike today, everybody knew everybody else on our street back in the early-1960s. Get-togethers with neighbors were very common. Our family spent a lot of time with the Karros family, whose house was almost directly across the street from ours. There were six children in our family and my parents were VERY strict disciplinarians. Nonconforming conduct was NOT tolerated. Period. End of story. Mr. and Mrs. Karros, in contrast, allowed their four children A LOT more leeway and that was glaringly apparent every time the two families got together. The laxness in discipline troubled my mother to no end, as we shall see.
I’m not sure exactly how old I was, maybe around eight or nine, but one sunny, summer morning my Mom and I walked across the street to the Karros’s house. My Mom intended to visit with Mrs. Karros, who was on her knees doing some gardening in the front yard, while I was going to play with one of the Karros children. The memory is still quite vivid 55 years later. Shortly after we arrived, I heard Mrs. Karros yelling at my mother in a VERY angry tone. My mother didn’t reply, but sheepishly turned back towards our house and motioned to me to follow her. That exchange was quite a novelty for me. I had never witnessed an adult talk so angrily or seen my very self-assured mother so humiliated.
I had no idea what had just transpired, but I learned later, from one of my older sisters, that my Mom had been chitchatting on the phone with another neighbor, Mrs. Palmeroni, who lived a couple of houses down the road, and said that the Karros children were wild and crazy and that all of them “needed a psychiatrist.” Well, the Palmeronis were also very friendly with the Karros family and Mrs. Palmeroni was happy to share my Mom’s disparaging remarks with Mrs. Karros, which was beyond ironic given the circumstances I described in my Part 1 post. Well, there’s nothing more ferocious than a mama bear when somebody’s messing with her cubs.
“I will fall upon them like a bear robbed of her cubs.” – Hosea 13:8
It was very strange living across the street from the Karroses after that. I still played with the Karros children occasionally, but Mrs. Karros let me know that I was a persona non grata as far as she was concerned. She looked at me and talked to me with barely restrained repugnance and hatred. I made it a point to avoid her as best I could for the next ten years. My mother and Mrs. Karros did not acknowledge each other when they were within eyesight.
Many years later, after I had moved out of my parents’ house, my mother and Mrs. Karros did resume a neighborly relationship. That was surprising. Mrs. Karros even attended my Mom’s funeral in 2014.
I’ll never forget the memory of walking back home with my thoroughly chastised and humiliated mother. Has gossip ever come back to bite you?
“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble.” – Proverbs 21:23
“A perverse man sows strife, and a whisperer separates the best of friends.” – Proverbs 16:28