We have attempted to do many things to show our love for her, and we could see her softening bit by bit... but we were still frightened if we ever had to go to her door. Her adult son warned us not to do so as well.
A few weeks ago, I sent the children around to several neighbors with some freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I had one bag left and told Tyson to very sweetly take some to this woman. He was gone for quite a while, and I waited anxiously to hear how it went.
Tyson finally burst into the door grinning ear to ear with a bag of individual ice cream cups and another cute, little baggie of plastic spoons in his hands. Not only did she like the bag of cookies, but she also gave us a treat in return!
We continued to wave to her and smile at her as the weeks passed.
Our trampoline is right in plain view of her window, and the children often go out there to read to each other. I told the children that she was watching their behavior, and that they must set a good example.
Then, just a few days ago, I was returning from a long bike ride with the kids. I looked across the street, and this woman was standing on her doorstep and motioning for me to come to her door. I hesitated for a moment with fear. I wondered what I had done wrong and didn't really want to hear it.
When I reached her doorstep, I discovered she wasn't angry with me at all. On the contrary, she told me some jokes and made me rehearse those jokes back to her so that I would pass them on to the children correctly! :)
She actually told me how wonderful my children were!! I wondered what had happened to cause this transformation in her perspective towards our family.
As we continued to chat, Jordan walked up her driveway. She said, "Is he the one who gave me a hug?"
Jordan politely corrected her and said it was Tyson. I didn't even know Tyson had hugged her!! What a brave little kid!
Today, this woman called me to her door again...
She told me another joke to pass on to the children and then invited me into her home and showed me pictures of her family!! She went to her back room and brought out a book she had owned since 1958!! It was a special book in perfect condition which contained all the legendary fairy tales and stories most of us grew up hearing. She said she had saved it all these years to give to someone who would actually read to her children. I felt very honored to be receiving the book and thanked her for her kindness.
As I prepared to leave her house, Mariah walked up to her door this time. I showed the special gift to Mariah, and then Mariah gave her a hug too! This woman, my new friend, held on to Mariah for a very, very long time.
I don't know if I have ever seen somebody cherish a hug the way she cherished Mariah's hug. Her arms seemed to melt around Mariah's little back. As she pulled her arms back, she quietly said, "I don't get hugs anymore. Nobody hugs me." My heart melted as I considered the loneliness and perhaps anger I would feel in my life if I had nobody to hug me either.
I knew she really wanted the hugs from the innocent children, but I wrapped my arm around her as well. I could not believe what I was experiencing. This woman, who deliberately tried to push us away from her life, was actually hugging us. I never would have guessed that she would have needed or have even wanted a hug! I thank God for the innocence of children who love so boldly- with no inhibitions. :-)