Sunday, August 8, 2010

There's a Good Side to Everything....

I have had "next-door neighbor problems" ever since I bought my home 13 years I live in a cul-de-sac, "my" neighbor problems were everyone's neighbor problems.  Without boring you all with the details, the woman (let's call her Mary) who lived next door to me was mentally ill - very much so.  Although I have an  almost inexhaustable amount of compassion, over the years, I finally had to assert myself with her and establish boundaries that she could not did everyone else in the cul-de-sac...her presence, unfortunately, cast a pall over the neighborhood...we neighbors rarely congregated in the middle of the street, or spoke to each other...because to do so, would alert Mary to come out and join us, causing mayhem and upheaval.  Over the past few months, Mary had become much, much quieter....for example, her front lawn and garden were her pride and joy...she spent hours outside, grooming every leaf and blade of grass....the lawn wasn't being watered, and nature was taking its course with her rose bushes and finally dawned on me that something was not OK with her...and that bothered me....and then her car disappeared for a couple of weeks before I left for Italy...while I was gone, she was very much on my mind...I prayed and pondered over what I could do for her that wouldn't redraw the boundaries that I had established...I decided that I could take care of her prized rose bushes that divided our driveways (they were actually mine, but that is another story...I abdicated them to her because they brought her such joy)...I came home planning to prune and water and feed....but Mary's car still wasn't in its accustomed place in her driveway...I had a really bad feeling about all of this....and my feelings were correct...Mary had not been well, and had passed away after a terrible accidental fall that left her on life support....her family let her go while I was gone...I had a sad day feeling guilty about how I had felt about her, mitigated by the knowledge that there was nothing that I could have done to help her during her lifetime and the fact that I had decided to perform a random act of kindness by caring for her let her know that someone had noticed and cared...although I didn't get to follow through on my act of kindness, I realized that doing these acts of kindness are an important part of my life...and that I will continue to look for opportunities to do putting all of my recyclable bottles into one big bag, and putting them on top of my recycling bin for the people who come and dig through my trash on trash day...or giving up my aisle seat in the plane so that a young couple could sit together during the long flight from Rome to Montreal...these things all say "You are important, and I SEE you"...Mary's passing only helped to cement my attitude toward others, and I will continue to look for opportunities to make a little cul-de-sac has a brand new lease on life...children are playing on their bikes on the street, neighbors are throwing balls for their dogs to catch, and we are all talking and visiting with each other....Mary is at peace with her demons, and the neighborhood is coming to for me, I'm off to water the roses!


  1. Praising GOD for your attitude to make a difference. We desperately need many more like you in each of our neighborhoods. We should all follow by your example.

  2. lovely, sensitive post.......Saranne, you are an angel on earth.

  3. "Do as you would be done by" such an important ethic.

  4. I am sorry for Mary, her life was not easy but she is at peace now.
    I am happy that the neighbourhood is back as it should be.....and I pray it will continue to be so for a very long time. Have a good week my friend, take time and smell those roses....Hugs

  5. ER said it well. The Golden Rules is the best, and only one you need to live by. Very unfortunate that Mary's problems had such a negative effect on the neighbourhood, but it's wonderful that people feel free to be natural now. Lovely post, Saranne.

  6. This was a lovely post filled with kindness and consideration, Saranne. Thanks for sharing your neighbors story. May she rest in peace.
    xo jj