When I first moved to Delaware back in the late 1970’s, most of my neighbors displayed southern hospitality. As the shy new kid on the block with a severe stuttering problem, this was the best scenario I could ask for. A girl across the street named Jeanette was the vocal leader of Tonbridge Drive, sharing her house with everyone her age. Mrs. Kerth brought her loving personality from Louisiana often saying, “make yourself at home.”
Through skillful and godly Wisdom is a house (a life, a home, a family) built, and by understanding it is established [on a sound and good foundation], 4 And by knowledge shall its chambers [of every area] be filled with all precious and pleasant riches, Proverbs 24:3-4.
Over the next decade, my parents became close friends with the Kerth’s, often eating together in the summer months. While Jeanette’s mom was busy cooking inside or her father was grilling out back, I was engaged in or playing a competitive game with other teenagers. Looking back, I didn’t realize how special this neighborhood would become and shape me as a human being. Yet, when Mrs. Kerth rang the dinner bell, everyone dropped what they were doing to run toward the hose to wash up for dinner.
A wise man is strong and [a]is better than a strong man, and a man of knowledge increases and strengthens his power; Proverbs 24:5.
As my wife and I prepare to become empty nesters in the summer of 2022, we have decided to downsize. Subsequently, sometime after June we will be making South Carolina our new home. Fortunately, we have made a few visits to our new neighborhood and look forward to developing relationships with the people we’ve already met. Perhaps, sometime in the near future we can both pay it forward by encouraging neighbors to make themselves at home like the example Mrs. Kerth set decades ago.
by Jay Mankus