(I wrote this a couple months ago and for some reason didn’t post it…)
When I bought my house I was so excited to have neighbors. People invested in their neighborhood who saw me as invested too, not just a temporary tenant. I couldn’t wait for the block parties! Unfortunately for me I didn’t really have those kind of immediate neighbors and with my house being on a busy street we didn’t have any block parties. I did chat with my neighbors though, and they looked out for me. One stopping over when the porch door was open for days and she hadn’t seen anyone and the others giving home and garden tips. (More so since I’ve moved, I’ve heard.)
When I was staying with my friend the first few months here I met a lot of neighbors in her building. Though most of them were quite a bit older it was nice to chat with them here and there. One, as I posted previously, collected bags for me to collect dog things. Another just loved to see Murphy after having lost her dog the previous year. She and another neighbor expressed sadness when I moved.
Upon securing a place where I could finally assemble my bed I gave my dad the address to send me a piece of my bed frame I had somehow managed to forget. I waited and waited. And waited. It never came. And then one day it showed up back at my dad’s office. I was so confused how it could happen! Then something else went missing. Being at work when I found out about it, I opened up Google maps and looked at the street view of my house. I had given my dad, and who knows how many businesses, the wrong address! Everything had been going to my neighbor. I immediately went to her place but found a note indicating she didn’t open the door for those she didn’t know. So I wrote a note asking if she could collect any future deliveries and also apologzing for our barking dogs. Not too long after that, a note appeared at my house in reply. She would gladly take my packages for me and she didn’t mind the dogs at all, in fact, she enjoyed them. It’s four months later and I have yet to actually run into her but I appreciate having had that contact and at the very least, knowing her name.
The neighbor on the other side I met one day while I was moving in. Carol was sitting in her back yard and was eager to chat. She told me all about how long she’d been in the house (her mother had owned it) and her three cats. I only ran into her a few more times but she was always friendly and she’d say hello to the dogs when she came and went. Over the weekend I noticed that her bathroom light had been on for at least 2 days. My roommate had mentioned the medics had been there last week so with that we were a little concerned. I went to her door but no one answered. I called the police department who advised me to call 911. I hesitated, as it felt odd to call an emergency line for what might just be misunderstanding. I called the next morning. (and gave them the wrong address but they managed to figure it out. i’m good at that.) My roommate was home when they came and said he’d let me know what happened. Shortly after they arrived, they confirmed that she was dead. I felt pretty sick. I didn’t know a lot about her but I never saw anyone there and I felt awful that she died alone. And awful that I waited. When I returned home last night and saw the Medical Examiner’s truck I broke into tears, at the same time wondering why I was so sad about someone I hardly knew. I ran into the ME when I let the dogs out and he let me know they got a hold of her brother and I was relieved somewhat to know that someone would be taking care of her and her things. Animal control took 2 cats. When I asked the ME about the third he said he had been there all day and hadn’t seen another but that there was plenty of food out should one come out of hiding.
This morning I woke to find an envelope addressed to me. Inside was a nice note from the woman who so kindly accepted my packages. She heard Carol had passed and wanted to make sure that her three (emphasis on the 3 multiple times) cats were taken care of. She also left her phone number. So I called her today to tell her what I knew about what happened and she told me a little more about Carol, and a little about herself too. And how she had often helped Carol around the house when she was ill. I assured her I’d try make sure someone came to to find the third cat and let her know when they did.
This isn’t at all the way I had hoped to grow closer to my neighbors but it’s a great example of why I was so excited to have a home in the first place. Though some prefer it, we’re not meant to be alone. There will be some time in all of our lives when we need a neighbor to watch our pets, help around the yard or house or notice when something isn’t right. If you don’t know those who live around you, why don’t you go say hello?
One thought on “Neighbors”
wow! Amy, not the post I anticipated. Hard to know someone died alone isn’t it? We had that happen when we lived in Robbinsdale. Poor Lee was home alone and had to go check for vitals on our crabby old neighbor who was frozen solid on her back step. He was probably 11 at the time. Dieing alone is something I would wish on no one. You are right we need each other. We need connections to others. Frequently that’s the most important thing I offer in clinic, a smile, a pat on the shoulder, and yes I even give hugs in clinic… We need connection.