Royce and I bought our house about nine years ago and we've had the same neighbor next door the entire time. Her name is Skip and we got close to her quickly. She's widowed with kids that are older than Royce and I but she knows how to have a good time and we've always taken care of each other.
She battled some pretty serious bladder cancer last year and on top of it ended up suffering some neurological problems from the chemo but she's strong like an ox and pushed through it all. She's healthy again and even though it's winter and we don't see her much we love that she's next door. It was a horribly scary time and the thought of losing her kept me awake many, many nights.
She took quite an attachment to the girls especially when they started walking......over to her house everyday and playing on her patio! She would watch them from her window and tell me how much fun it was to see them playing. They were always messing with her gardens and we would chase them away and hold them back but every time Skip would come out and yell at us to leave them alone "they're not hurtin' anything!". She started bringing out cookies and apples when she would see us out playing and the girls were always excited to see her. Adia even starting knocking on her door when she wanted her to come out. Skip would come out and push them around in their Cozy Coupes or pull them around in their wagon. Just like any real Gramma would do.
A year ago this past Christmas in the midst of her illness she walked over a gift for the girls. It was two sets of adorable pink hats and mittens. She had our other neighbor drive her to pick something out for them. I'm actually getting emotional writing about it (partly because I don't know how we'll tell her we're moving away). She's so very sweet. This past Christmas she brought over two tiny purses and in each was a pack of stickers (like gold in this house) and a photo of her cat, Abby, who the girls adore. For their birthday she got them an sock elephant and a sock monkey which the girls push around in their strollers almost every night when I'm making dinner.
When we got the flu about a month ago Skip mailed each of the girls a card saying she hopes they feel better soon so they can come out and play with her.
Yesterday the girls were out playing in the snow and out walks Skip with a Valentine for each girl. She spoils them so bad!
It's not that she showers them with gifts that makes her wonderful to them. It's that she loves them, she makes them feel good, she pays attention to them and she's teaching them that you don't have to be related to be family. So the saying is true, sometimes the best family is the one you pick for yourself.