Do you remember how everyone in the neighbourhood used to watch out for us kids? Heaven forbids if any of us “broke the rules”. Regardless of our age, chances were good that if our parents didn’t see catch us, they’d find out anyway because Mrs Jones, who lived a block away and knew our mother or knew we were Mary’s kid who lived next door to Mrs. Jones’ daughter’s best friend, caught us. Does that sound familiar?
We never locked our doors, yet never got robbed. Our parents were always there for the neighbours, and/or the kids, as were we. What happened in our neighbourhood happened to all of us, in a matter of speaking, and it affected everyone. If someone passed away, there were more than enough deep dish casseroles, sweet potato biscuits, and cookies and cakes at the church hall after the funeral to feed, well, the entire neighbourhood. And when a baby was born, the same thing happened. Except this time, there were more mounds of baby clothes than food. Does that sound familiar too?
Not everyone on the street owned a lawnmower and/or snow blower. Come to think of it actually, very few had a snow blower back then. Most had this great invention called a shovel. And we very seldom had to borrow (or ask, for that matter) because those who had these conveniences, offered to mow your lawn, or shovelled your driveway. You were never stuck.
What in the world happened to our sense of community? Why isn’t it like this anymore? Oh, correction . . . in some areas, it is.
I remember the story of a man named Frank, who took a heart attack. He wasn’t allowed to drive and his wife Annie never had her license. It was wonderful to see that sense of community because their families were quite a distance away. yet these two got more drives than they could count, people dropped in to see how they were doing, always asking if there was anything they could do. It was incredible.
Frank got the green light to drive again after ten weeks and, go figure, it wouldn’t start when it was time to go pick Annie up at work. He suggested she take a cab, not that they could afford it but . . . In passing, Annie mentioned to the cabbie that her husband’s car wouldn’t start. Out of the blue, the cabbie offered to help. Now I know that’s not unusual, many people still lend a hand, specially for the elderly. Grab the booster cable and off you go. Right?
But this young cabbie did more than that. When, after a boost, the car still didn’t start, he drove Frank to the gas station to fill up a jerry can, drove him back home, and made sure the car started. Then, he left without accepting a dime for lost fares. Fare he would have received had he not helped Frank. What an incredible story of a selfless act for a young couple. Oh, by the way, Frank was only 42 old when he had his heart attack.
Today, I chatted with our neighbour, a retired gentleman who we don’t see often enough. He’s the one who reminded me of neighbourly love and the good old days. He wished people were like they used to be and he misses that. Come to think of it, I do too.
Next time you get the chance to help a neighbour in need, a friend, or even a total stranger, don’t think twice. Just go for it. You’ll be glad you did. And someday, it will come back to you.
What goes around comes around.