Q: I have a very nosy neighbor. She lives about three blocks away but is on the corner that I have to drive by. Whenever I go past her (if she’s out), she wants to know where I’m going. When I’m returning home, she wants to know where I went, what I bought, how much it cost, what I am going to do with it, etc. I’ve done my best to be polite and give her some silly answers, but she doesn’t get it. I’m looking for a comeback that puts an end to the questions. She also drives by in her golf cart when I’m working in the garden and asks the same sort of annoying questions.
A: Who recalls Gladys Kravitz from the TV sitcom “Bewitched?” This reminds me of her. But at least she was just a fictional character. Unfortunately, you have the real thing poking its golf cart in your business.
Here’s what I would do: the next time she approaches, explain that you’ve begun a program of silent meditation when you’re in your car and in the yard. After this encounter all you need to do is put your index finger to your lips to remind her that no speaking is allowed. You must keep the car rolling or continue to prune the hydrangea if she attempts to break the silence. Move about like a monk in contemplation. Refuse to engage her, and she’ll find someone else who will.
Q: On my birthday, my sister sent a text saying she was going to call me later in the evening to wish me a happy birthday. I never heard from her. A week went by, and she called to say that the gift she bought me was so heavy that it would cost more to mail it than the present itself cost. She asked if I would mind if she just got me a gift card to a store. I told her I would love that, and she said she’d have it in the mail by the next week. It’s been 2 months, and I haven’t received anything from her. I have seen her and talked to her since that time but haven’t brought it up. Do I tell her that her thoughtlessness has really hurt me? Or do I try to let it go and just not bring it up?
A: Consider her text as your birthday greeting. Be glad that she remembered your day and reached out at all. Let it go, and don’t take any of this personally.
That said, I would let her know that she hurt you. Tell her how much you appreciate her thinking of you, but warn her against making promises that she won’t keep. Hopefully, this discussion will clear the air, and it might even help her to understand the weight of her words.
Q: I’ve been reading your column for weeks now, and you are too harsh on people. Actually, you are just plain mean. I think you should try a little compassion for a change.
A: Dear heart, I always advocate compassion. The part you’ve missed is that compassion is not passive.
Compassion doesn’t mean that we sit back and allow others to hurt us or themselves. Compassion demands that we put love into action. It mandates that we bear witness to the suffering of all living beings and do something about it. Like a warrior, not a wuss.
Think of all the families and friendships that are sick because someone is permitted to do or say things that inflict pain or harm. This behavior spreads and infects others, sometimes for generations, and all because someone didn’t have the cojones to confront the problem.
Life is just too short and precious to live small, afraid, and from the sidelines. I’d rather fight than shrink. And you know what else? The battle is ours to win. As Joan of Arc says, “Act, and God will act.”
NEXT WEEK: Readers tell what they miss from Christmases of old.
Send your holiday memories and questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Lauretta Hannon, a resident of Powder Springs, is the bestselling author of The Cracker Queen—A Memoir of a Jagged, Joyful Life and a keynote speaker. Visit her at thecrackerqueen.com.