By Diane Degnan
Visiting homebound church members and neighbors may not be a popular pastime for most kids, but seven-year-old Julia Eskridge has been doing it since she was only two. She's following in her mom's footsteps and her Nana's too.
"I like to see them, say 'hi' and have chats," says the first-grader who attends Jeffersontown United Methodist Church in Louisville, Kentucky. "I like making friends."
It's easy, she says, to converse despite the generational differences. For instance, she has a special bond with her friend Mildred Breckenridge, age 86. "I love visiting her; she's nice to talk with. We ask about each other's day," Julia said. "I like to tell good stories about my day at school." Mildred lives near her school, so she can drop by for a chat and play with her cats, Sweetie and Mercury.
"I'm always so glad to see Julia. It's good to have someone that young to talk to," said Mildred. "There was sort of an immediate smile between us. It pleases me that she sends me cards and the sweetest little notes ... she writes extremely well for her age."
"A child that age who's so thoughtful, she's going to be very special in whatever she decides to do," she observes. "She's like a little sponge. She's very receptive."
Mildred recalls when she was a child, she also developed a friendship with an older neighbor. "I found that lady so interesting; I've never forgotten that. We'd sit in the swing and talk. I kind of think it's reproduced itself with Julia and me. If you give a young child an opportunity, you never know what will blossom."
Kay Eskridge, Julia's mother, grew up visiting homebound church members from First United Methodist Church in Bedford, Indiana, with her own mother, Elizabeth Collins.