My Neighbor--Mom | Teen Ink

My Neighbor--Mom

January 13, 2008
By Anonymous

After a few rings of the doorbell, I can hear the commotion shuffling toward the door. The door swings open and the warmth from inside leaks out into the frigid outdoors. An ear to ear smile greets me along with a brief scolding for actually ringing the bell (I’m supposed to just walk right in). After removing my snow-laden jacket and shoes, I make my way into the living room, where a soft leather sofa and hand knit throw are sitting there just waiting for me. The subtle north-woodsy accents reflect a love of nature, there is a little black bear hiding in every corner of the carefully decorated home. After shooing her energized kids into the play room, and adding the finishing touches to her to-do list, Deborah Rettig finally sits down to join me. I feel right at home here. Mrs. Rettig continues to impact my life, with her patient, helpful example, and easy-going nature.
Growing up, Deb’s step-father was an alcoholic. No one in her family was extraordinarily pleased with the way their life was working out. “It was like stepping on pins and needles,” she said, never knowing what would set her parents off. Deb thought that if she could be a well behaved kid, and take care of all of the chores that her mom would normally perform after a long day of work, everyone would be less miserable. It was exactly this innocent thinking, which cultivated a compulsive need to keep things clean. In Florida, where she grew up, it was, “Get or be gotten. Take, or be taken advantage of.” She would often find herself manipulating and deceiving others to her advantage. It wasn’t until she went to college in Tennessee, and experienced southern hospitality, that she discovered that there were people out there who genuinely cared about the welfare of others.
In her early twenties, Mrs. Rettig simply tripped, and acquired a terrible back injury that landed her in a wheel chair for two years. After fighting her way through serious depression, Deborah was given a new outlook on life. She believes that, “Failure is something to leap off of and go forward. It allows you teach and talk to other women on a personal level.” Mrs. Rettig is able to bond with others through various ministries and hobbies, including; scrap booking, knitting for a charity group, and leading a church community group. Her personality is so friendly and inviting that she can’t help but effortlessly make connections with others. As a Mary Kay (cosmetics) consultant, Deb has been given the opportunity to share the word of God with others. She explained, that more than just an aging face is revealed when she takes a reluctant woman’s make up off. They become vulnerable with out their, “mask,” and are more willing to open up and talk about their beliefs. Her ability to connect and converse with others is one of my favorites of many admirable qualities.
Today, Mrs. Rettig is always there for me. She promises, “As always, if you need an ear (or an arm or leg) just let me know.” She has rescued me from sticky situations time and time again. Once, by only the strangest coincidence, every dependable adult on my list happened to be gone. My mom and dad were flying home from Brazil, my aunt (who had been taking care of my siblings and I while they were gone) had left for home after we went to school, and Mrs. Rettig was on her way down to the airport to pick up my parents. This just happened to be the only day, out of the entire year that I was sick at school and had to be sent home. Like the true hero that she is, Mrs. Rettig made countless phone calls to every one she knew, until finally, one of her friends was able to come and pick me up. “God surrounded me with good friends,” she would later say, “They’re your landing board when you need protection and security.” When you were raised in a place where your friends and most of your family were superficial, having people who you can depend on unconditionally is a blessing you won’t forget to count.

Now that she’s a mother, Mrs. Rettig declares, “I run a family.”, and Kelton, Kegan, and Kaden are the three little tyrants who are lucky enough to be Mrs. Rettig’s boys. She’s such a devoted and patient mom. There’s not a thing in the world that she wouldn’t sacrifice to help them achieve their goals. However, being an exceptional mother is a skill that you acquire with time and experience. As Mrs. Rettig states, “You’re not born knowing how to be a mother. You and your kids are always changing.” In the middle of our interview, one of her boys came running into the room, obvious excitement plastered all over his face. Instead of scolding him for the interruption, Mrs. Rettig calmly listened to an entire speech on her son’s latest LEGO creation. She sees herself as more of the teacher, in her kids’ lives. “I’ve been through a lot,” she explains, “I’m not going to judge you for making a poor decision. All that I can do is explain why I think it’s the wrong one, and let you decide from there… I can share a lot from personal experience.” Her balance of discipline and free choice, along with a whole bunch of patience and love, formulate an ideal environment for her rambunctious trio.
On the short end of five feet, the, blond, “pixie-like,” lady is a blessing to all that she meets. Mrs. Rettig is not only my neighbor, but my second mother, and whether she sees it or not, she’s constantly molding me into a better person by setting an impeccable example. Whether it be parenting, or ministering to women, Mrs. Rettig states that an important decision has to be, “Something deep down that you know you want to do.” Whatever your choice in life, she won’t stand in judgment on you, Mrs. Rettig can only dig deep into her well of experiences and draw out some good advice. In a note she once sent me, Mrs. Rettig instructs, “Hold on tight to what you believe. Let your faith guide you through the dark journeys, and lead you into the bright light God has waiting for you.”

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