notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Neighborly

Now that I am in a Kindness mania – and is there a better mania to be in? – I was reminded by a reader of the importance of being a good neighbor.

I don’t believe I have listed neighborly kindnesses, except in the sense that we are all neighbors.

But I should mention the kindness of neighbors in the strict definition of the word. The people who live nearby. Those who you know by name. Maybe your kids play together. Maybe you’ve shared the same street for years. Maybe there is an old person on your street who knew you when you were riding a tricycle.

Those people who may not be your closest friends – but they live the closest. And they are there for you.

The neighbor across the street from Mom is one. This is a case where the old lady is my mother, and she remembers the little boy on the tricycle. He has kids of his own now. He shovels her driveway now.

And there’s our neighbor who came up to our house a few months ago, because we were fifty miles away when our security alarm went off. He waited for the police and made sure everything was okay, and called us on the road to reassure us.

I also had a neighbor years ago who called to check on me one day, because she saw my car in the yard when I never, never, ever took a sick day. I had the flu, and it was kind of nice that someone noticed.

And there was the woman who opened her door to our little cat who was being chased by a very vicious dog. This same woman spent a hot summer afternoon pulling weeds in our garden, because hers was finished and she just felt like doing some more.

But here is my favorite Neighborly Kindness:

Several years ago, my husband had a job that required him to travel quite a bit. At least once a month, he’d be gone from Thursday through Sunday. He always worried about me … actually, let’s make that the present tense… He always worries about me, and so made sure the neighbors knew when he’d be gone, so that they could watch out for me when I was alone.

At the time we had an eccentric black cat by the name of Casper. Yeah, black. Yeah, Casper. Everyone always expected him to be white, considering his name. But it’s a long story. I’ve written about him once before (Stranger Than Fiction), and should probably do at least one more post to describe what it is like to live with a feline with OCD.

On one of my husband’s traveling days, I was home alone. Casper was outside and I had not been able to coax him in. He loved being outdoors in all weather, and this was a beautiful summer night, so he was prepared to sit in the yard until midnight.

I was watching television, and all of a sudden there were blood-curdling screeches out in the yard. I ran to the door and saw that Casper was having a huge fight with the neighbor’s cat Tigger.

There was no way I was getting in the middle of it, but I had to stop them. For one thing, Casper had gotten beat up before. He was a smallish cat, and brave but not strong. (I remember after one particular defeat, the vet said, “Well, he’s no coward; he’s all beat up on his face, but no injuries to his butt. He didn’t retreat.”) And Tigger was one mean S.O.B. As a matter of fact, I was terrified of Tigger myself.

On the kitchen table was a box full of paperback books that I had intended to donate to the library. So I grabbed the box and ran out to the porch, and started throwing the books at the fighting cats.

“STOP IT!”  I screamed and threw a book.

“STOP!! STOP!!”  I screamed and threw and threw and screamed.

And then up the driveway was the most crazy sight.

Having heard me scream, two of the neighbors were running up to the house with shovels raised. Short, old, overweight guys with shovels! Coming to save me!

It was exactly like that climactic scene in the movie “Witness” where all the Amish people come over the crest of the hill to save Harrison Ford.

Those two men were willing to fight for me, not even knowing what they may have to fight.

And I said, “It’s Over, Tigger!” – just like Harrison Ford.

And I never felt so safe.

I love those guys.

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23 Comments

  1. Such a funny story! It’s wonderful when someone “has your back”. We aren’t really close to our neighbors, but I think any of us in the cul-de-sac would be there for the others if needed.

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    • That’s one of the nice things about neighbors. They may not be your close friends but will give you a hand if you need one.

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  2. We are lucky to live in a very close-knit neighborhood. Not only do we celebrate together, the husbands often help each other with house projects (they are talented so it’s a good thing). I love your story!

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    • Ours too… where we live now, we only have two other families on the street, but help each other all the time. And our “village” association – the residents on the east side of our town are very active together – cleaning debris, planting flowers alongside the road, having little get-togethers. I love it.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Today, people are barely half as neighborly. Everyone is running here and running there, too tired to stop and notice who they share space with next door or across the street. They keep different hours and their focus is inward. Sad, isn’t it? Maybe where you live, it is still the same as in your post. 🙂

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    • It’s very nice here. We have a “village” association and we have get togethers and trash pickup days and flower planting days. We even had a pre-Super-bowl party. We cleaned up the abandoned railroad yard this fall and we must have had 40 people there… and four tractors and lots of chain saws and it made a real difference.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It sounds fabulous, Nancy. I’m in the suburbs. Being neighborly means keeping your head down cause you’re in a rush. Sigh.

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  4. Ray G

    I LOVE your mention of the Amish-featuring movie called “Witness”. One of my favorites.
    When we first moved to our present house we had a “nosey” neighbor across the street named George. He was disabled, and always checked out his window when we arrived home (one could see him peeking through his blinds). After a few years he saw how much trouble we had shoveling the snow in the winter, and one especially awful storm day showed up with his snowblower, and said to me, “Try this”. We were “converted” and soon bought one of our own. He also took our garbage to the “dump” before we became aware of the correct day to set it out for collection. He was a good guy.

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    • That’s a nice story. I think that “nosey” people are often just lonely people.

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  5. You have wonderful neighbors. I rarely see my neighbors and we all live in the same building! There a few that I know fairly well and we know we can depend on each other and that is good.

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    • My husband is a lot more social than I am…. he helps me make friends with the neighbors.

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  6. Nice.
    I love your kindness posts. I have been lately feeling that we are so desensitised to kindness around us, it’s so sad. Yesterday, a stranger helped me pull out my car from a difficult parking spot, and I was touched at his kindness. I did the kind act that I could at that time, gave him a heartfelt smile and thank you.
    Keep the kindness going.

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    • Maybe a smile and a thank you was exactly what that helpful stranger needed at that moment.

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  7. Awesome

    Liked by 1 person

  8. You brought back some find memories. As a kid growing up in a neighborhood where our doors were never locked and we all knew each other’s names. A child in trouble could run to any home and feel safe. Parents didn’t have to worry about kids the way they do now every time they leave the house. It’s a sad state of affairs when I have to admit to not even knowing my neighbors names in the last three towns I lived in.

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    • I grew up that way too. And the mothers had a rule. All mothers had the right to yell at each other’s kids. They were all on the same side, and us kids knew it. It was reassuring.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Neighbors can be great! Old guys with shovels – what a sight. We live next to a park and I have gone out many times when I heard a child crying. Glad that you are in the Kindness mode.

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    • My husband once ran out of the house when he saw the neighbor’s 3-yr-old out walking by herself. When he brought her home, the neighbor said, “Oh, is that where she was?” I guess it was no biggie that she was headed for the busiest street in town.

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  10. Beth Stocksick

    OMGoodness! You made me laugh out loud at the scene I imagined in my head…

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    • It was crazy, but very reassuring and sweet. Those guys would have protected me any way they could.

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  11. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks

  1. Every day kindness. Something to which to strive « Living: the ultimate team sport

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