“Frances, Frances, hello, Frances!” Oh, the rewards of being neighborly. It really does not take much effort to stop and say “hello” to a neighbor. I’m willing to bet you can even branch out past the people who live directly next to you. My dogs and I have long made this a practice. I now know widows, widowers, and extended families blocks and blocks away. Let me tell you a bit about one of them—Frances, who just turned 90 and does not look it.
The Spunky Senior
I first met Frances about two years ago as Bellie and I were out for an evening stroll. Frances lives two streets over in a quaint bi-level house built in the early 70s like mine. Frances’ grown daughter and beloved big boy dog share Frances home with her. They make sure Frances is behaving. One never knows when this spunky nonagenarian will bust a move with her walker.
Over this past year, I no longer saw Frances sitting out on her front stoop enjoying the fading sun and admiring the dozens of flowers her daughter keeps up around the yard. I honestly thought Frances had passed or that she had moved to a care facility. But last Saturday I was riding in my friends’ car past Frances’ house and spotted my buddy by her front stoop. Frances is alive! As soon as my friends dropped me off at home, I grabbed Maisie and off we trotted to greet Frances.
Come Visit Anytime
“Frances, Frances, hello, Frances!” I called out to my elderly friend. Frances’ surprised look was just priceless. Her smile immediate. Her joy brimming over. She recognized me and we picked right back up in conversation. Frances has had some knee problems and would like to ditch her walker, but she’s being a compliant patient and daughter. I told her about Bellie passing and introduced her to Maisie. Of course, those girls bonded in an instant.
I am inspired by Frances’ resiliency through the decades. For a good half hour or so, Frances and I chatted on about her flowers, the weather, hospital care, noisy passing cars, and her grand dog and my Maisie. Sure I’d been gone for hours and my to-do list was missing me, but deliberately carving out conversation time with Frances was the best medicine.
Before we parted, my endearing older friend invited me several times to just come visit anytime. “It may take me a bit to get to the door, but I’ll get to you.” Walking home later, I thought about at least three rewards of being neighborly.
Your Own Rewards
- You turn strangers into trusted friends.
- Your own problems take on less importance.
- You spark encouragement and joy in others.
I know you could add your own rewards of being neighborly to this short list. We gain more than we invest when we shift the focus off ourselves and risk getting to know the people who live around us.We come away from our drop-by conversations a little lighter in heart and a little heavier in the dividends of relationships.
In our wild, untrusting, let-me-get-revenge world, it is nice to know that some of us like Frances still just like to sit and admire the beauty of flowers and sunsets. Some of us like Frances still just like to talk strangers who have now become endearing friends.