Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Week in Letters

Dear Howard and Mona,

Nobody on this blog knows you (and even so, these are so not your real names). Well into your 80s, there's no computer in your household. The Matron is shifting in the rare "I" form because that's the kind of people you are.

I'm so amazed that so many neighbors shovel every inch of your property. People? If you don't live in Minnesota you might not appreciate what that means. The snow sometimes piles up to the eyebrows. Shoveling is not a casual endeavor but a two hour event. Really.

Every day, Mona, you need someone to come into the house -- morning and night -- and administer medication and eye drops. You have no children or immediate family so there's the goodwill of the immediate vicinity.

And immediate vicinity?


Today, after putting out the garbage for your household and feeding the cats, I watched another neighbor come into your house for the eye drops --and was felled. You are not alone. Over the weekend, someone across the street is building a ramp and putting in handles for the shower. No -- I didn't ask anyone to do this; we're talking a village that looks out after it's people.

So, no third person tonight. I'm humbled by the generosity of spirit around me, living in a hard-scrabble inner city neighborhood where if someone strange enters a garage 15 people call 911. And someone is willing to come over every morning and night to do the eye drops. Not me (I'm garbage and outdoor cat food mostly--and sadly, sometimes litter box).

Which is what's so wonderful. That person who comes over every single day -- twice -- is my neighbor. And would do the same for me.

My father once told me to always give the waiter or waitress an extra dollars as a tip. What does it matter to you, he said? But to them, that's an affirmation and a way of expressing humanity.

There are quite a few extra dollars out there (okay, I leave 30% tips because of my father who died not long after this dictum). And someone doing eye drops every morning and night, without complaint, question or applause.

Not me. But I have a new model for how to operate in the world.


Anonymous said...

Isn't it beautiful that helping each other has not lost its meaning among everyone? Thank you for sharing such loveliness. It seems like the elderly get neglected and it is so nice to hear otherwise.

Green Girl in Wisconsin said...

Charity starts in our back yards. We live in a place with the same values and I feel so glad for it.

Rena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Xtreme English said...

Minnesota is a wonderful place, and the people really are like that.

Anonymous said...

I had a neighborhood like this when I had Shaggy Haired Boy. People would knock on the door, offer meals, babysitting and several neighbors would come in and say "Nap or shower? Or both?" And there were days I would have had never were it not for these kind and gentle souls who were thrilled to have and take care of the first baby on our street in 12 years. Good people abound, we just have to receive them. The bad ones find us quick enough with no invitation. I choose to operate on the side of kindness and giving. Glad you are surrounded by it and it is alive and well.Bramble