In the past, I’ve written about the great neighborhood where I grew up and currently live. Considering I’ve lived on this street all but seven years of my life, one can surmise, I either don’t like change (strong bet), or there is something special about the people who have made up this neighborhood through the years (best bet). Our neighborhood isn’t all that different from others. We residents are a part of the hardworking middle class and have been ever since the neighborhood was created, over 100 years ago. We have the same desires as every other neighborhood, a safe environment in which to raise our family, good schools and churches, and for those who enter to drive with care and respect down our streets. When my hubby and I chose to return and raise our family here, we did not make the decision lightly. I think what swayed me the most came from the nostalgia I had from growing up in such a wonderful environment and the hope that my children would have an opportunity to enjoy a similar experience.
When I was a kid, I was determined to grow up faster than necessary, telling others that when I turned thirteen years old, I would no longer play with kids younger than myself. I believed at that age I would be far too mature for the likes of them. Which, as I came to learn, was the dumbest idea I ever had especially since four houses down from us, lived a young family with three girls whose ages ranged from two to six years younger than myself. Though we didn’t attend the same schools, we did share the common want to play, have fun, imagine, create memories and experience life together.
Mr and Mrs. or as they insisted we call them, Wayne and Jackie Speweik, along with their three girls, Greta, Sarah, and Brenda, welcomed my brother Dan and I into their family with open arms. Several times inviting us along to their campground for weekend excursions. Another time they invited us to go on vacation with them to Macinac island and Traverse city, Michigan. But those are just mere moments in the long highlight reel this family occupies in my memories….
Like the time I came home from an afternoon of playing at their home and my mom asked what we had done all day. “Not much, Mr. Speweik just told us about the birds and the bees…” I replied, shocking my mother to quickly reply “He did what??” Or the time their dog Sid, a Great Dane, broke out their front porch window in the effort to come outside with us. Or the time we built a cool fort out of the fallen twigs and branches in their back yard, or the many sleepovers we “tricked” our parents into saying yes. Or, or, or the list goes on and on. Looking back over that time in my life, the only real regret I have is, taking my Barbie Airplane over to their house to play and never bringing the darn thing home. Oh, what that dumb airplane could be worth today staggers my imagination. I continued to break my thirteen-year-old maturity rule until I began high school the next year. By then Greta had entered junior high and our circle of friends began to diminish in one area while expanding in another. A few years later, their family moved away from the neighborhood and we all lost touch.
A few years back, with thanks to social media, we reconnected via Facebook, more as old acquaintances, less than much more. But it was always nice to see their posts and be reminded of what a wonderful childhood they helped give to me. Then Sunday night, Jackie posted that her husband Wayne, had passed away from lung cancer and it all came rushing back to me. My one true regret is never telling or thanking Wayne. Jackie and family for the blessings they bestowed upon my life through their friendships.
A Barbie airplane doesn’t even begin to repay the cost.
Rest in Heaven Wayne.