After residing in the same place for nearly thirty years our neighborhood feels like a big family under one roof. Carolyn’s in the office, Susan and Kathleen are in the dining room and I’m in the kitchen. The others are scattered around the house and sometimes we pass in the hallway. We know we’re there for each other and we’ll call if we need anything.
Pat mows for us regularly now. It’s a huge blessing because we have a large lawn.
When a pipe burst and we had no water, Shari came over and helped me carry dishes to her house to wash. We showered there for days.
Ruth used to walk through my back door to borrow something or to bring me a yummy treat. I loved that she always wanted me to see her new paint or wallpaper. It was fun to get excited about our projects. Once I was in angst about a paint color for the living room. I’ll always remember what she told me. “Don’t worry about it— it’s not a marriage!” That phrase has helped me many times when I worry over a decision.
There is one thing I learned early on about making friends with neighbors. Asking a favor, even to borrow some sugar, can initiate a relationship. One neighbor is now a close friend. In the early years I was struck that she always had it together. I wanted to be friends but I didn’t know if she’d ever need me or if I could add value to her life. One day I was in the middle of a baking concoction. I desperately needed an ingredient so I knocked on her door. She gladly gave me what I needed. Looking back, I really think our friendship started then. I’ve always been glad when a neighbor needs a cup of flour or a can of tomatoes. It brings us together in a unique way,
I remember when Leigh lived across the street. I’d sent some soup over to her. She brought the bowl back full of camellias. She said her mother taught her never to send a container back empty. I liked that.
Years ago, another neighbor, Bill, lost his wife and was all alone. John was a baby so I would knock on Bill’s door and ask him to take a walk as I strolled John. He talked about our walks until the day he died. It taught me that little acts can make a big difference. Even now as I’m remembering him, I’m reminded to break out of my little world, and show interest in a neighbor.
Cookies are always a good excuse to knock on a neighbor’s door. One family brought us a bouquet of flowers to thank us for the cookies I delivered. Our daughters became good friends.
People don’t tend to move from our neighborhood until they die. We sit with them as they’re passing away, when appropriate. We attend their funerals and bring food. We go back home and try to adjust to life without that special one. We remember the times we were with them at the Christmas party or the times a knock came at the door and there was Barbe delivering Maxine’s amazing homemade dumplings. I’ll never forget all the sweet people we have known and lost. I can see them right now in my mind’s eye.
I’ve been lamenting a potential move from our home– but the real loss would be the people we’ve grown to love.
Do you know your neighbors? If not, I urge you to take a step and reach out in some small way. You will be the one who benefits most.
“If we are to love our neighbors, before doing anything else we must see our neighbors. With our imagination as well as our eyes, that is to say like artists, we must see not just their faces but the life behind and within their faces. Here it is love that is the frame we see them in.”