Thursday, December 5, 2013

Won't you be my neighbor?

Every morning after Maggie is fed, changed and dressed, we quietly do all the frantic rushing. We get the talker programmed and packed, fill the portable oxygen tank, hang the fully charged and equipped suction bag on the back of the chair, and put a jacket on both Maggie and me. We put the pole for the talker on the chair and put the wheelchair tray out side the front door.Then we get out the back door, down the elevator, through the basement and out the garage door to wait for the bus.

The bus arrives somewhere between 7:30 and 7:40 On good days we are down there all put together and calm at 7:30. On other days we open the garage door while holding a feeding tube and buckling the last of the 7 straps and hope the bus isn't already out there with the lift down waiting for us. Good days and other days are fairly equal in number. Today was pretty good. And that gave me a few minutes to observe others in front of their houses getting their mornings underway.

Unless our next door neighbors happen to see us getting in to the elevator on the back deck, no one sees any of this. They really have no idea what it takes for us to get out in front by 7:30 AM (ish).  By the time the garage door opens we are together and ready to greet the neighbors walking dogs or driving by. For all they know we are carefree and easy going. But I also have no idea what it takes for them to be outside and ready to go at that hour either. While their circumstances are not like ours, the frantic rush may be in their houses too. Once we're out in front, that is all behind us.

This morning it dawned on me that they put up with a lot having us as neighbors. We are in a row house so there is a lot of togetherness. They can hear the drone of the elevator every time we take Maggie up or down. They can see the lights on in the middle of the night as the nurse works with Maggie. They hear the van that drops off the night nurse and picks her up again in the morning - especially when it honks its arrival. (I ask them not to). They see the delivery vans or the oxygen guy double parked in front of my house every few days.

In short, we are not the most convenient neighbors to have.

But none of them complain. Ever. This morning I watched my neighbor try to pull out of her driveway and navigate around Maggie's school bus just as she does almost every morning. Her kids need to get to school too, and they generally leave when the bus is here. She just waves at me and carefully maneuvers out of her driveway.  I watched my other neighbor wait for cars to go by so she could get around the bus and proceed on to work. She rolled down the window and yelled good morning to Maggie as she did that.   I watch the young guys next door come out and say hello to Maggie asking her questions that she can answer with a yes/no and marveling when she does so. They are a lot closer in age to Maggie then they are to me. All they want is to go get their morning cup of coffee at the nearby cafe but they always stop to say hello.

They all accommodate us in 100 different ways every single day and I never really stop to appreciate that. I bet they think nothing of it, it's just part of being a good neighbor. Even if they don't know the specifics of what goes on in our house, they get that we need a wide berth to get things accomplished. Life would be very unpleasant if they didn't make these accommodations for us, or if we even had to ask them to make them.

Asking is very awkward  because either the people feel bad that they didn't think of it themselves or, rarely, they really don't want to make the accommodation and resent being asked and lash out.  That is unpleasant for everyone. But we have never had to ask our neighbors anything.  They just do it automatically. And that's so nice.

 It's a neighborly day in this beautywood.


  1. that post brought a tear to my eye! Although it was about the silent love and understanding of your neighbors, you also showed how little it takes to make you and Maggie so happy...just some small moment and acknowledgement of Maggie...priceless!


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