This post was started in the middle of July… Last night my neighbor died. He was elderly and had been declining for some time, so it wasn’t a overly surprising or dramatic death. However his passing has affected me, I realized in my nearly 2 years living in the house next door, I never held a conversation with the man. I know some things about him, but I have been so caught up in myself and my own life that I didn’t reach out. Do I think if I had been a better neighbor, this man would have continued on a little longer? No and he had lots of friends and visitors, but what can one more friendly face hurt?
In all honesty, I know very little about any of our neighbors. I know less names of those who live on our block, than I did growing up where there was acres/miles between us. When we first moved in, I made a slight effort making up a few Christmas goody plates, but only gave 2 of them away, because when people didn’t answer the door, I didn’t come back later and try again. I have become too independent. I talk about life taking a village, and yet my village is remarkably small.
Growing up, I think about my parent’s friends and our family. We knew all the neighbors on our road and at least knew the names and phone numbers of people on the way to town or in the near by areas. This list was far beyond the power company or town hall, but family, friends, support for any situation. We knew these people from just driving by and saying hello, visiting on occasion, and just being neighborly.
In the past 10 years, being neighborly has changed, while I know I have cut myself off from getting too close to anyone, it is an epidemic. People can tell you more about Google and the news from far away lands, but can’t tell you the names of the people who live right next door. We don’t call on a neighbor to talk to them about the neighborhood, we text people across the country who we haven’t seen in years and consider our best friends. There is nothing wrong with long distance friendships, but people need other people too. We need to have side fence meetings to talk about the changing weather and what Ol’ Mr. Taylor down the block is up to.
People, particularly of the younger generation, have become so caught up in who is offending who and what celebrities are doing, that they are afraid to reach out to the human beings living right next door. We have been taught that our independence and being able to do things on our own is the only way to achieve satisfaction, but we are missing great opportunities to connect, to love, to learn. Thinking about my elderly neighbor’s passing, also makes me think of my grandparents, 3 of which are still living and in relatively good health. I am reminded of how much I used to appreciate the generations before me. I used to love visiting my grandparents and listening to the history they witnessed… both mainstream and personal/familial. Now even though I am surrounded by people similar in age to my grandparents, I don’t make time to listen. I don’t make time to learn form the wisdom of those who have walked these roads before me and because I haven’t made them a priority, John isn’t benefiting from the knowledge we are surrounded by either.
Since this post has taken me a long time to write, we have met family members of our dear neighbor Alf and learned that his brother and sister-in-law will be moving in as our new neighbors soon and I am already working on a basket to welcome them to the neighborhood, because I don’t want to miss out on another opportunity to make a friend from our neighbors.
Rest in peace Alf and memory eternal.
Do you know your neighbors?