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Losing a little neighborly love

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Bailey Porter, Editor in Chief

Bailey Porter, Editor in Chief

When I saw the “For Sale” sign go up next door, I experienced a very lonely feeling.

The neighbor who is more like a grandma than a neighbor to my siblings and me would finally be doing what she had been talking about for years.

Rowena is the kind of neighbor everyone wants.

You know the famous Mr. Rogers song? Well, Rowena is easily the epitome of that song.

My family has lived next door to the perfect neighbor for 21 years—and it’s a good thing since a narrow driveway is the only space separating our houses.

Having Rowena so close has also kept us from experiencing what I think is a growing trend of isolation in many neighborhoods.

When friends come over they are often surprised at how “neighborly” everyone is in my little cross section of the world.

I think for my family, when we first moved in and I was still wearing “rubber duckies,” Rowena provided that friendly, secure feeling that allowed us to then get to know our other neighbors.

She attended every birthday party we had as kids and still comes over to enjoy cake and ice cream on special occasions. This May, we will be celebrating the last round of birthdays with her.

If we still want to celebrate with Rowena we will have to travel to Idaho because that is where she is moving so she can be closer to her two sisters.

The cost of living in Southern California has become too much for a 76-year-old living alone off of social security checks.

Rowena worked all her life. She should be rewarded with the ability to live out the rest of her retirement in her own home. Even if she is being forced to move, I know she will be happy near her family. But her adopted family is really going to miss her.

Each summer, my family takes a vacation and Rowena comes over to take care of our two cats. We know everything is safe and the cats are happy. Then, no matter how late we return at the end of our trips, Rowena always thinks to leave a light on for us.

There were a few years when Rowena’s sister who has severe dementia moved in. When Rowena took off on her own vacations in July, we invited her sister to watch neighborhood fireworks and even light a sparkler or two.

We exchanged house keys years ago. This comes in handy on the occasion when I forget my keys. But it’s also just a sign of trust.

Rowena probably got a little worried a few years ago when we began eyeing her empty backyard and spare bedrooms as great spots to temporarily house humane society dogs or cats we wanted to foster, especially since we had a key to her house. But she warmed up to the idea; my mom and I can be pretty persuasive.

One night, we even camped out in her backyard with a Dalmatian we were sending to a new home in Maryland on an early morning flight. Since the humane society was not open early enough to just pick the dog up then, Rowena let us use her yard.

Then Rowena opened her home to Mila and her son Giovanni. Mila was a very sick cat who needed a safe, warm place to live while I was givingher medication and looking for a good person to adopt her.

Rowena welcomed the new addition to her house and really saved her life.

Prospective buyers swarmed the house as soon as it went on the market.

They could all be very decent people, but that didn’t stop me from wanting them to just go away.

We aren’t just losing a neighbor. We’re losing a good friend.

Bailey Porter, a senior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at

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