April 28, 2008

Just Being Neighborly

I grew up in Idaho watching my family help neighbors and remember them helping us when ever we needed it. If I heard Granny Grunt or Grandpa Bozo say one time, "It's the neighborly thing to do..." I heard it a bajillion! It was just the way things worked. I thought that was the way things worked all over the country. Not so.

When we moved into our little house my neighbors didn't quite know how to take me...this happens frequently with new people and they all finally just get used to it and either accept me or adjust to me.

At first, I introduced myself (and Big Shooter) to everyone. Then set about getting to know them all. I mean know them, not about them. That part just comes naturally after you get to know them and they trust you. Anyway, I found they all seemed to know about each other but no one really knew each other the way I thought neighbors should. I began inviting more than one over at a time that I knew had things in common, we'd yell greetings or comments to one neighbor while talking to another, we had "street cook-outs" literally in the street in front of our drive so they'd come by just to see what and why? All these things began to get the elderly ones talking again, the newish ones introduced and the recluses well, we just talked about them in the beginning. Only because I needed much more info and years to break them down... The old ladies caught up on their kids and grandkids, the two musicians that lived across from each other found out they were both dying to play in a band together, one neighbor started dating another, a single momma found she could not only count on us all to watch over her and her boy but could trust us all to be there in times of domestic violence. Big Shooter and all the neighbor men standing literally in a quiet line of protection and solidarity on the sidewalk...and me with a baseball bat. (I have zero tolerance for that kind of crap and to this day the young man does not know Big Shooter was there for his protection, not our little neighbor girl.)

I say all this to explain why I am posting so late.

Every one's fave neighbors on the street are our little elderly couple Norman & Eula Mae. They are the epitome of neighborly. Norman used to walk up and down the sidewalk several times a day with his various dogs. He told me several times how very glad he was I was "so talkative and social" because things were getting back to normal finally. What he meant by that is for many, many years he'd been taking his daily walks and no one said 'Hi, Norman' or waved any more. Then they started again. It made him beam. That's when I realized what "doing the neighborly thing" meant. It meant we were all part of a big family. We watch out for each other. We pray for each other. We feed one another's family in times of sorrow. We watch pets. We chase down speeding cars with rakes or water hoses. We love on each other. We are neighbors!

Last spring we lost Norman. It was coming...but, too sudden. Know what I mean? It saddened us all to our cores. We rallied around Eula Mae. She has one son that lives far away. She is frail to say the least. She can't drive. She can barely walk with her walker. She can't cook. She needed the neighbors to do the neighborly thing. And I am proud to say We Have! Oh Boy have we!

I realized this tonight at 11:28. And I am finally able to let go.

My phone rang. When I looked at the number I knew before I answered what was up. She'd fallen...or worse, and the medical alert company was calling me to alert me the fire department or EMTs were on their way. The dispatcher on the phone wanted to know how far away I lived and how long he could tell the EMTs I'd be. "I live across the street, I see the lights already and as soon as I get off the phone I'll run over and let them in..." The cool thing? I was the first on the list to be called...but the third one in line with a key to let them in and rush to Eula's side. Whom, by the way is fine and dandy. She always is, once she gets up off the floor with the help of 2 or 3 good looking young men...I tease her mercilessly about being hard up for a date. She's 85 and loves every minute of it!

Ya'll how cool is that? I love, love, LOVE the fact I get to call her son in the morning and say, "Rick, my attention will be else where the next few weeks and I believe it would be a great idea to move my name on down the list for the med alert company to call. Your momma can count on Neighbor #1 and Neighbor #2 to be there for her when ever and for what ever she needs..."?

We know one another. Therefore, we know what each other needs.

Way cool.

Love Note to my Big Shooter: Thinking over all the things you do for the neighbors just reminds me of all the things you do for our friends, colleagues, acquaintances...strangers... You are an awesome neighbor. Isn't there a scripture that says that? "Be an awesome neighbor." or maybe "You should strive to rock at being a neighbor"? Or is it simply, "Love thy neighbor"? I like, you should rock at being a neighbor better. So - You ROCK at being a great neighbor Darlin'!


Anonymous said...

You do rock! You are all an example of what is being a "neighbor".
Love, Heather
PS See ya tommrow.

Jennifer said...

I LOVE that Stacey!!! You give me something to strive for in our neighborhood. Being new I guess we get to start fresh. I pray God gives me grace to step out of my comfort zone and be more than neighborly and be a friend.

Thank you my friend!!!!

Beth from the Funny Farm said...

My neighbors frustrate me. They were all related to the people that we bought this farm from and they are not happy that someone "outside" of the family has bought and changed the place. That is hard. And I mean ALL my neighbors... beside me to the left, beside me to the right, and directly across the street from our barn... all related to the former owners.

My best friend bought the place behind us 10 years ago.. and now they have their place up for sale. I understand why they need to move.. but that is hard too!

Anonymous said...

Yep...people are just people. Give them a reason and a chance and they may just become freinds. On the other hand..the good book says love em all...but I find..some are better to loved from afar....good luck Beth!

Andrea said...

Aww..you guys are great neighbors. I love Eula Mae stories. Thanks for sharing this one.

Andrea said...


Andrea said...

that last post is from Erin (18 months, now)...feel free to delete it if you wish...lol!

Sheila said...

What a heart-warming story to begin my day with, It's the neighborly thing to do... I am so glad that you are the neighbor that everyone loves. You make me WISH I lived in your neighborhood.
toodles, Sheila

Flea said...

The Eula Mae story is fantastic. You are the best neighbor ever.