Let me introduce you to Mr Don.....

Our new neighbours have moved in. It's Mr Don and his wife. Mr Don is an elderly Italian man who has lived in Australia a long time. He has a thick accent. He swears a lot. His builder didn't exactly do the right thing about him. Mr Don LOVES to talk. And talk. He has a gruff exterior, but actually is very generous and kind.

At first I didn't like him much. He just would come up to our house and bail Ben up for 40 minutes or so, giving his opinion on everything from fence building to the government. He took a bucket of water every so often (even after we moved in!) to water his plants - which was fine, but he didn't even ask!

Then, he asked Ben to look after his ride-on mower. This was an absolute God-send because our little push mower died after mowing our 1-acre block only twice. Ben helped Mr Don move house. And I found that Mr Don didn't mind it if you kept working away while he talked, just as long as you were listening!

Lately, I've become much more appreciative of Mr Don. He really is a nice man. He is a bit lonely with his wife working all the time (and "She on the phone six hours a day!") and no family close by.  He gives the children toys (one of which was an actual harmonica which the children all love!) and he's still letting us use his ride-on mower, which is great. I don't like it when he comes up to the house at first because I'm always busy doing something, but once we get talking, I don't mind. And if I need to go, he says, "OK, Julie. See you!" and lets me go.

I was dreading when he moved in because I thought he'd always be up at our house talking to Ben. But he's pretty good. And Ben's busy working a lot at the moment, so he has no reason to come up. And I quite like seeing him potter about his yard planting plants (he's planted more in two weeks than I have in 18 months!) and mowing his lawn.

If I'd gone on my feelings from two years ago, I probably wouldn't have been very nice to Mr Don and been pretty rude to him. But I've learned that now I know who Mr Don is, I actually like the good parts about him. And the bits I don't like aren't so bad any more. Once we got past the annoying stuff he did (like not listening to us in conversation!), I don't mind him.

It's why I always think we should keep our words 'soft and sweet' and take time to get to know people before cutting them off. Sometimes there may be certain relationships that you do have to cut off sometimes, but mostly I find that the Mr Dons of this world have a reason for being the way they are. Once you discover the thing that makes them the way they are, it makes being their friend easier.

That's my friend Mr Don. Annoying, talkative, opinionated, generous, friendly, lonely, gardener, swearing and kind man.

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