Our 92-year-old neighbor, Ruth, passed away. Just before Christmas she was taken to the hospital by the paramedics. She didn't want to go, so she took a swing at one of them and bloodied his nose (a girl after my own heart). She came home after a couple of days and was home for Christmas. Shortly after Christmas she took her second trip the hospital, but after a couple of days they sent her home. There was nothing else they could do for her.
Ruth has a large family, and the last couple of weeks they have all come to see her. My husband went over and said his goodbyes, as well. Goodbye is something I don't do well. I worked up the courage twice. The first time I looked out the window and saw a whole lot of cars, so I knew there was a lot of family over there. I didn't go. The second time I saw her son's bicycle on her lawn. I knew he had not yet had a chance to say goodbye, so I didn't want to intrude. I was never able to work up the courage again. I was afraid I would cry in front of her, and I didn't want to do that.
Ruth was a good lady. She was a little Catholic lady who went to church every day while she was able to do so. The other day we found out from her daughter that Ruth used to pray for us. I was quite touched by that. There must be a special place in heaven for people who pray for the likes of me. I didn't deserve this sweet lady's prayers.
Ruth and Raymond (who passed a number of years ago) were good neighbors. We've had a lot of good neighbors. We moved into the neighborhood as youngsters, really--the neighborhood rookies, if you will. Our neighbors took care of us. There was endless advice given about how to take care of our home and how to repair things that broke. There were cans of paint that suddenly appeared from garages. Tools were loaned. If we began a house repair job of any kind, we could be sure that Raymond, Harry, and Shorty would have their heads together in Harry's driveway deciding if there was an easier way to do it, and whether they should step in and help. Raymond and Harry each lifted several of my children through the bathroom window on numerous occasions to unlock the bathroom door when someone accidentally locked themselves in the bathroom. After the addition to our home was built, there was no longer a bathroom window. The inevitable day came when our youngest locked herself in the bathroom. The kid panicked and was hysterical. (I never want to be in an emergency situation with this kid!) Raymond broke down the bathroom door for me.
When my first two children were little, Ruth was providing day care for her grandson. He was older than my kids. My oldest, Molly, would sit on the curb with her little red wagon with her head on her knees because she didn't have anyone to play with. Ruth's grandson would come across the street, pick Molly up and put her in the wagon, and pull her up and down the street. I suspect that was Ruth's idea. My kids grew to love Ruth's grandson, and they were often in Ruth's home playing. I never had to worry about them when they were with Ruth.
It occurred to me this morning that all the old neighbors are now gone. We are no longer the rookies. It made me look at what kind of neighbor I am. My husband is a good neighbor, but I guess I need to step it up a notch.