Our Crazy Neighbor
I live in a great neighborhood; in fact, it’s where I grew up. Yep, I live in the same house in which I grew up. Almost all of my neighbors have been in their same homes for decades, which is a good thing – except in one case. We have a crazy neighbor across the street who has caused a lot of problems over the past decade or so. I’ll call her Mrs. Jane Smith. She’s always been kind of mean, and now she’s crazy AND mean. This is NOT a good combination!
Mrs. Smith lives alone in her nice two-story home. I feel sorry for her, but sometimes it’s hard to have much empathy for someone who seems to purposely alienate everyone, including her own adult children. Her husband left her years ago, supposedly because of her nasty attitude. It was at this point that her instability became apparent. I’ve always wondered if she “went crazy” because he left, or if he left because she “went crazy.”
Jane spends a lot of time in her yard. She cuts her grass with a sling blade, and she washes the trunks of her pine trees. If we’re in our yard while she’s outdoors, she yells obscenities at us. Last week, she hollered to me that she wished I would die. I have no idea why she has so much animosity towards us. We’ve never had cross words. It’s not just us, though – it’s everyone. She curses at strangers walking on the street, too. And when we have visitors to our home, they get an earful when they arrive if Jane is her front yard at the time. Just a few days ago, in fact, a couple came to our home, and Mrs. Smith yelled at the man, “You S.O.B. (she said the words), you’re supposed to be over here cleaning up my yard!”
This lady is dangerous. She burns her trash on a regular basis, and the fire often gets out of hand. We live in the suburbs, where it’s illegal to burn trash. One day she hosed down the firemen when they came to investigate one of her fires. Another time, the fire burned down a substantial portion of the woods next to her house, and the Forestry Commission had to do damage control. One day hubby went over to her house to talk to the attending firefighters, and Jane pointed to him and yelled, “There’s that S.O.B. who sneaks over here and sets these fires!”
We were told that Jane has broken out the kitchen windows in her home and throws her trash into the back yard. When the pile gets big enough, she rakes it into a circle and sets it afire. We have city garbage pick-up, so I have no idea why she feels compelled to take this task upon herself.
Jane has terrorized the entire neighborhood. She had a Chihuahua that lived inside with her, and one day the dog escaped and ran to a neighbor’s house. The neighbor knew that Jane didn’t want the dog running loose, so she returned it. Jane was furious, saying. “Why did you steal my dog? I don’t see why everyone wants MY dog. Why don’t they just get their own dog instead of stealing mine?!” The dog-returning neighbor told me that the next night, Jane egged their car.
Jane also likes to spend a lot of time on top of her roof. Sometimes she just sits there, and sometimes she plays with the dog on the roof. She seems to enjoy this activity much more than the dog does. She also likes to wash her roof. I’ll bet she has the cleanest roof in the state.
We’re never surprised anymore at what we observe across the street. One day we had several family members over, and one of my sons-in-law gasped as he peered out the window. I looked to see what had shocked him, and there was Jane, running completely topless across the yard, chasing her dog.
Jane used to have a pistol, which she supposedly pulled on police officers. We didn’t see this, but we heard about it from several sources. In this case, they were trying to take away her vicious pit bull. The dog was out of control and had attacked several passers-by. Mrs. Smith is not the kind of owner that an aggressive pit needs. Thank goodness, the dog was removed. Now I don’t have to worry about the grandkids playing outside. She yells at them, but this won’t cause physical injury. The kids are, however, learning a bevy of colorful words of profanity.
Her latest eccentric act happened just a couple of days ago. Another neighbor had a large cement statue of St. Francis, which was broken by a fall. This neighbor put the beheaded saint on the curb for the garbage men to pick up. Jane evidently liked the head, so she placed in on top of her roof. It’s there now. Kinda reminds me of how they used to place the heads of prisoners executed at the Tower of London on spikes on the Thames.
Jane doesn’t drive anymore after an encounter with local traffic cops. They tried to pull her over for speeding a few years ago, and she outran them. They followed her to her home, and she jumped out of her car and yelled at them and threatened them once her car was safely in her carport. Since we don’t have a grocery store within walking distance, Jane walks up to a nearby gas station about once a week and purchases enough chips, Twinkies, soft drinks, and Vienna sausages to keep from starving.
My mom, a nurse, tried for years to help Jane, but Jane refused any help. I don’t know what the solution is. Her three children don’t want to deal with her, and neither does her ex-husband. I think she would be safer in an assisted living facility, and I know the entire neighborhood would breathe a sigh of relief. Would it be cruel, however, to remove her from the home in which she’s lived for decades?
Although we laugh at her antics sometimes, Mrs. Smith is actually a sad case. This woman was beautiful, cultured, and well educated. She was also a talented musician and a professional singer. She could offer so much to her young grandchildren, yet she’s chosen a different path. Or maybe she had no choice in the matter. Her youngest daughter swears that her mom isn’t crazy – she’s just mean. The daughter claims that Jane can be perfectly “normal” when she needs to be, so I don’t know where the truth lies.