A year in our family’s life found us in Rhode Island – a little house on a quiet street. Our two-year-old son and I were home alone all day while Dad was at work. The houses around us emptied early in the day , the residents to jobs outside the home.
All except one – the house across from us where Mrs. Duffy lived.
Mrs. Duffy was an elderly woman who watched my son and I every afternoon from her front window as we played outside. One day she opened her door and invited us in.
That was the beginning of our afternoon ritual. After our playtime out of doors, we would visit Mrs. Duffy. She would make me a cup of tea, milk and cookie for Henry, and we would rest in her cozy warm presence. Crayons and paper were always out and some children’s books and odds and ends from childhoods past that were inviting to a little boy.
She was a very quiet, peaceful woman who intuitively knew, without a lot of conversation, what two-year-olds were like and what a mom of a two-year-old needed.
I think often of this genuinely lovely woman who was so generous to me. Alone during the day in a new place, she offered me an unspoken comfort, understanding and connection that nurtured me and our young son.
Recently this young two-year-old, now grown and with a wife of his own, was in Rhode Island visiting his in-laws. They took a ride to find the old street and house he lived in when he was two – and the house of Mrs. Duffy’s across the street. Of course Mrs. Duffy is no longer there, but it brought back to me many warm memories and appreciation of that time of support, friendship and understanding.
I hope the same for parents who find their way to The Parenting Place. I believe our Play Shopppes, our Parent Connections, warm lines, group classes, home visits lend themselves to that same role Mrs. Duffy offered me – a welcome, a connection, a participation that nurtures and supports parents and all those who care for children in the ways they need.
At this time of year, as the new year 2013 begins, I celebrate Mrs. Duffy and all the familiar faces and families we know so well at The Parenting Place and look in anticipation to the new families who will come through our doors in the year ahead.
“Sometimes you wanna go where everybody knows your name, and they’re always glad you came. You wanna be where you can see, our troubles are all the same. You wanna be where everybody knows your name.” (theme song from Cheers)
May you all have a very healthy, supportive and nurturing new year ahead!