A year ago, as I pulled into my driveway around 7 pm, I noticed an ambulance outside my neighbor’s house. Upon inquiring I was told that Phyllis (an octogenarian) who lived alone had broken a hip bone.
Phyllis was the first to welcome me into the neighborhood. She made time for me and would make small talk with me as I pulled in and out of the garage. I had grown fond of her over time and would drop by to make small talk and punctuate her otherwise lonely world with some sparkling conversation.
I started checking in on Phyllis more often and got her coffee, food and groceries every day until she healed. Entering her house was as natural as entering my house. I would often text her son who was miles away if she had shell fish allergy etc but beyond that I was happy being of service to her. I adopted her as my own.
Then, one day she called me long after she had healed and asked if I knew of a reliable plumber. Her bathroom was flooded she said. I rushed to her house with the contacts I had. Little did I know that her daughter had moved in with her after the medical incident and was home when I walked in. The daughter yelled from the other room that “people should call before they visit and not walk in anytime they wished”. Phyllis looked at me helplessly and I was embarrassed.
My other neighbor (septuagenarian) locked herself out of the house yesterday and called on me for help. My instincts kicked in and I went over. I did everything I could and once she was back home, I asked her to call on me if she needed anything else. She promised she would. Throughout the day I was tempted to go over and check on her but I did not. I had learned my lesson from the previous incident. Before the end of the day I casually went over with Cherry and asked her if everything was ok and if she needed help before the lights turned off.
She seemed relieved to see me and asked me to help her make dinner. She seemed frazzled and there was a lot of nervous chatter. I quickly wore the apron and made a meal for her and her family and left only after extracting the same promise – that she should call if she needed anything.
So, what is the lesson in all this you wonder? I have come to realize that in life we have many dark moments. I should neither float above the hurt nor succumb to it, meaning, I should not go to either extreme (cutting myself off from neighbors OR being a compulsive helper despite what they think). I need to extract the dose of wisdom from the dark moment, use it as a vaccine so as to build my immunity [Mark Nepo] and move through life.
Love and Light.