My father-in-law is from Ashland, Mississippi and he receives each week a copy of the Southern Advocate. In this past weeks paper (Thursday August 29, 2013) was an article written by Joyce Brock under her byline Just A Thought.
I grew up in a small town and it could just as well apply to my town or any other small city in the South.
So I wanted to share it with you so you could enjoy it as much as I did.
Benton County Neighbors Are First Class
(Editor's note: This column was originally written in July 2009.)
A number of months ago, my parents acquired a new neighbor. More recently, then my husband and I found a new friend in this neighbor. He moved here from Memphis, (TN) which of course is pretty nearby. However, the culture isn't the similar as you would think. We all joke around about how we're all "hillbillies" and he's a "city boy." While we're not really all that different, it does remind me why I love this little community so much. More than a group of people who live near one another, we're truly "neighbors." If you look up the definition of the word neighbor, you will find a few options. As expected, the first one is "One who lives next to or near another." None of the textbook answers define my concept of a neighbor, except maybe "a fellow human." I was raised to believe that a neighbor is someone who, yes, lives near you. However, "near" may mean next door or in the same state as you. That isn't where the definition of neighbor ends for me, though. I was taught that a neighbor is someone who deserves your respect and your love. You wouldn't drive by your neighbor, if they were broken down on the side of the road. You wouldn't just draw the curtains if you noticed someone messing around your neighbor's house. When a person is your neighbor, you do anything for them that is within your power. That means if there in need, you freely give or lend what you have. It means that if they're sad, you freely listen to their complaints. Ideally, you love your neighbor as much as yourself.
While that is difficult to accomplish, it is a worthwhile goal to pursue. In fact, it seems like that lesson came from someone awesome...Although our community isn't perfect, I am very proud to say that the "neighbor" system is in pretty strong effect around here. This is one of the many reasons I would never want to move out of Benton County, and definitely wouldn't want to move away from Mississippi. A dear friend and neighbor, Lori B_ _, recently sent me an email entitled "Mississippi Friends." This email is sappy and sweet and clearly states what I am talking about, so I'll share it with you.
Friends vs Mississippi Friends
Friends: Never ask for food. Mississippi Friends: Always bring the food.
Friends: Will always say hello. Mississippi Friends: Will give you a big hug and a kiss.
Friends: Call your parents Mr. and Mrs. Mississippi Friends: Call your parents mom and dad.
Friends: Have never seen you cry. Mississippi Friends: Cry with you.
Friends: Will eat at your dinner table and leave. Mississippi Friends: Will spend hours there, talking, laughing, and just being together.
Friends: Know a few things about you. Mississippi Friends: Could write a book with direct quotes from you.
Friends: Will leave you behind if that's what the crowd is doing. Mississippi Friends: Will stand up to the whole crowd that left you.
Friends: Will visit you in jail. Mississippi Friends: Will spend the night in jail with you.
Friends: Will visit you in the hospital when you're sick. Mississippi Friends: Will cut your grass and clean your house then come and spend the night with you in the hospital. And they will cook for you when you come home.
Friends: Have you on speed dial. Mississippi Friends: Have your number memorized.
Friends: Are for a while. Mississippi Friends: Are for life.
I'm proud to be a part of this community, and I'm happy to welcome Neil and his beautiful family to our little neck of the woods! (I'm glad you decided to call this "home.")
(You can contact me at: 1-662-837-8111 or firstname.lastname@example.org with questions, comments, or story ideas.)
With permission from the Southern Advocate.