My Daddy bought the second house built in Green Acres when he worked for the Soil Conservation Service of the Federal Government. (The builder lived fifty years in the first.) Then he married my mama and they raised me, the elementary me, in that house. Little did my Daddy know how very well he had chosen. When the next house was finished, a couple and their two sons moved in. That family: Hugh Nelson and Geraldine Maddux, he, the Dairy Science man at UGA and she an accountant in UGA’s Food Services and their sons, Richard (Dickey) and Hugh, probably buoyed my life more than anyone save my incomparable Nana and Dada. Readers of this blog may have already come to realize that I spent most of my childhood’s time at Nana and Dada’s. What time I was not there…and not at school, I was at Gerry and Nelson’s. Gerry would bring something over – she was always cooking something incredible… and leave with me. There was a trail well-worn between the English Boxwoods that formed the “barrier” between our yards. When I was no longer a newborn, Dickey or Hugh would come get me everyday after school and ride me home on their shoulders. These were teenage boys…but I was their first love. When I got over to their house they would play with me awhile until their Daddy got home. Then they would start their homework and chores and I would sit still in Nelson’s lap and we would read the paper or eat us a before dinner snack. Usually we had raisins, my favorite. I ate them with Nelson everyday. My mama didn’t know that I liked them, because we never kept them around. One day she went over to Gerry and Nelson’s to get me for bed, although I am pretty sure that they bought a baby bed for me to stay in at their house, if I got tired. Mama saw me with my raisin box. “Honey, you don’t like raisins, do you?” I crumpled my brow and began a very adamant reply, “Us do, us do like raisins.” It was Nelson’s favorite story. These random neighbors, who had no tie to us, but love, moved into our lives and filled in so many of its empty spaces. My Daddy traveled Monday through Friday most every week for the first seven years of my life. Daddy was a stranger, Mama had Laura, my sister who was so very colicky and cried everyday until she started to school. So I stayed with Nana and Dada and when not there, at Gerry and Nelson’s. Mine was a sweetly rescued life indeed. There have been few more loved children than I. I may not have been the friendliest child, all my children are … thank you, God; but once I took to you, I was your’s forever in an endearing sort of way. I had a few things going for me: I slept well and long ( unlike Laura), I talked very well for a little person, and I could and would sit still for hours wherein I would happily turn pages of magazines and picture books. I was pretty easy. When Gerry and Nelson moved from Green Acres when I was about seven, we made the three mile journey to see them all the time, especially at every holiday. Gerry grew gorgeous roses and she cut them for every event in my life: birthday dinners, graduations, bridal showers, and my wedding. As I grew older, Gerry made all my favorites any time I would stop by to see her and Nelson. When I was fourteen we moved to their neighborhood. We were closer again. I’d stop by on my bike with tangled necklaces. Nelson could always get them unknotted in a matter of minutes. I can see him in his chair, under his bright, reading light, working out my tangles for me. When I started to drive and go all the time, I didn’t stop by so much. I only saw them on the special days. But I had to pass their home to leave the neighborhood, and even that gave me a sense of security and comfort I can hardly explain. Both Dickey and Hugh married and had fine children who now have children. Nelson, who worked like no man I know: hard at his job, his hobbies, his yard, and all the honey do’s Gerry continued to put on him way into his eighties… died three years ago. Trent and I drove back for the funeral. I lost Dada at 10. Nelson at 40. It felt the same. Gerry looked tired. She had never look tired before. Dickey, the oldest son, a handsome charmer, the consummate MC, was talking to, thanking folks in the huge crowd that followed to the cemetery in the twenty degree blowing wind. Finally, he turned into me …and picking me up… like every other time, finally wept….for the man who loved us both with his very best.