by Kelly Whitty
on Thursday, April 8th, 2021 at 10:59am.
What makes a house a home? As a born and raised Edmontonian, I have called Edmonton my home all my life, and no matter what side of the city I’ve lived on, I’ve never been more than an hour’s drive from my parents. The uncles, aunts, and cousins I grew up with have all been within a half hour’s drive. Or a really long bike ride as I discovered the one time I rode my bike from Callingwood to Londonderry more than 20 years ago.
I’ve never experienced living away from “home”.
My husband, Chris, is from Newfoundland. Although he has lived here almost his entire adult life, I’m sure a part of him calls NL home and I know, especially through the pandemic, he misses his family terribly. When we got married, I never imagined how hard it would be for him to raise his family so far away from the family that raised him. If nothing else, the Covid-19 pandemic has caused us to re-evaluate our definition of home and make major life decisions, like moving closer to family because we’re forced to see how precious our time together really is.
This brings me to this week as I watched our neighbours of almost 5 years pack up the moving truck. Our kids were close in age and played together often. They didn’t go to school together but seeing their school bus come down the road around 4pm was often a relief for me as I could send my kids outside to play. Although the adults didn’t spend a lot of time together, I watched their 5-month-old grow up to a little boy who will go into kindergarten in September. They are American citizens and he worked in security at the airport. It was time for them to be back closer to family.
I didn’t realize how sad this would make me, and I’ve been thinking it was mostly for my kids and I’ve been sad as they have spent the last few days playing outside with them as much as they could. But now I realize I was sad for myself too. I like having good neighbours to connect with. The last text message I sent to them was to check if they had left the house because their garage door was open. When we said our goodbyes yesterday, and they both commented how much the kids were going to miss each other and what a great neighbourhood it was. It made me feel good to know that their experience living in Canada, suffering through the cold Edmonton winters, was enriched by having good neighbours and friends for their kids. Why else would they have stayed this long?
I know for myself and Chris, we love our neighbourhood. There’s something about our community that has a small-town feel. You often run into people you know at the grocery store, you always have someone to have a chat with when you drop the kids off for school, or even just going for a walk. While we often think of a new house, we can’t imagine leaving our neighbourhood.
For Chris and I, good neighbours definitely make a home. I truly believe you can live anywhere as long as you have good people close by to connect with. I have the phone numbers of almost everyone in my cul-de-sac. I have actually asked to borrow an egg, cup of milk, and not that long ago a protractor for my son’s homework when he forgot his at school. We’ve watched either other’s kids, helped each other move heavy things, (my neighbor Andy rejoiced when I bought a new car that didn’t have a convertible top he’d have to help my husband with every fall and spring) had farewell parties for other neighbors, played together, and just made life better for each other. We can’t do all of those things right now, but I am really looking forward to the day when we can.
Good neighbours make a house a home.
*Photo - Pizza party of the kids the day before their journey back “home”