Wednesday, January 28, 2009

I'm a Bad Neighbor

I gave up on getting to know my neighbors many years ago. I used to make a point back then to get to know who I lived in close proximity too but eventually I started getting weird looks. People acted as if I were intruding upon their lives by introducing myself. I never gave up but I didn't make any outward attempts to get to know them. I just let it happen. Gradually I met my neighbors mostly by being in the yard at the same time or on an evening walk by their place.

I met my neighbors down the hill on a summer evening as we were just finishing up our evening walk. The house had been for sale off and on since shortly after we bought our house and it was nice to see some people there for a change. The new owners were an elderly couple and seemed almost desperate to talk so we stopped and talked for awhile. They had just moved into town so that the wife could be near her elderly mother in the nursing home. The husband was retired and mostly did woodworking. That is about as much as I can remember.

As summer progressed, we would wave to them now and then as we walked by but never stopped. They always seemed busy with yard work. One night in early fall, I noticed an ambulance backed up to the house. After about fifteen minutes, the EMT's wheeled the wife out on a stretcher and loaded her up in the back. The husband came out and stood in the back looking in the doors and I assumed was talking to his wife. It was probaby ten minutes before the ambulance closed the doors and drove off obeying the speed limit and with no lights on. The husband followed in their mini-van. I assumed his wife had fallen and broken something which explained the non-emergency speed at which things happened.

I thought that I should go over there and ask if there was anything I could do but time got away from me and I forgot. As fall turned into winter, I didn't see any of their vehicles or tracks on the snow in the driveway but being retired, I assumed they had gone south for the winter. All those assumptions upon my part fell apart last week when through an unrelated conversation that I learned what had happened that early fall evening. The wife had evidently fallen over dead from a heart attach and the ambulance had been there to pick up the body.

I inquired about the husband but the man who had told me about the wife didn't know. Now I feel bad that I didn't even know that my neighbor had died and so much time has gone, it is probably too late to offer my condolences. Worse yet, since nobody has seen the husband. Do we go over their only to find him dead or has he gone to other places now that his wife is gone? It makes me wish that the days of old were still here when everyone knew their neighbor and stopped in now and then just to say hi without any hint that we might be intruding upon their lives.

12 comments:

Murf said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

It's sad that "neighbors" aren't like they used to be when Mr. Rogers was still around, or well, like they still are where I grew up. I wanted to get out of there so badly growing up, but once I did, I could fully appreciate what I had then.

I lived half a mile from the nearest neighbor, but we knew each other. We knew if something was wrong with one of them. And it wasn't just us: in a community that small, EVERYONE knew. There was no guessing or wondering.

It's too bad that your neighbors have been so closed off to getting to know you. I think that once you head into that slide, of not putting forth the effort, you kind of stop without even meaning to. I know I have in the past. I don't know any of my neighbors here.

Murf said...

I don't think it's too late assuming he's not dead in the house. Next time you see him out in the yard just say that you had heard about it and wanted to let him know how much it sucks.

I'm so glad I didn't buy that house. ;-)

The Real Mother Hen said...

Hhmm, perhaps you could go to the police station and share your concern about the old man with a cop?

geri said...

Pay him a visit Ed, he would welcome having someone to talk to.

Murf said...

You know, I bet he would like a warm, homemade dinner as well. That would be a nice gesture. Can you make anything bland?

sage said...

I agree with Geri--go visit him. Take him a homemade dinner too, like Murf suggested, but don't make it bland. Even old folks have taste buds.

Murf said...

But Ed likes it really hot so bland to him is probably just right.

Beau said...

Yes, visit when you can. Most people understand, and would appreciate it. Our neighbors are not really interested in getting to know each other either, which is kind of sad. But two of them live right next to extended family homes, so that changes things a little.

Ed Abbey said...

Thanks everyone for your comments. I've been gone from the blogging scene the last few days and haven't been ignoring them. I hope things ease up a bit next week.

edifice rex said...

Oh, Ed, I know what you mean. It's hard these days to know what to do about stuff like that. A lot of people do look at you like you're nuts if you drop by to say hello or whatever. Or they think you are up to no good.

R. Sherman said...

The downside to Americans is that we're not busy-bodies. We assume others wish to be left alone when perhaps that's not the case. A lesson there, methinks.

Cheers.