Are you my neighbor?

Chemo hat for the next door neighbor

Back in December, I learned through the neighborhood grapevine that the 21 year-old son of our next-door neighbors had been diagnosed with cancer. Once I had that knowledge, I started noticing that I wasn't seeing the regular things that I usually saw in the winter. The acres of leaves hadn't been raked yet. The house was often dark in the evenings. The car that was usually in the driveway was often gone. I wasn't seeing my neighbor using the lawn tractor to transport wood from the woodpile at the back of the property to the house. I felt like, as a neighbor, there ought to be something I could do. But I didn't know what it ought to be. Every time I drove by I had a nagging feeling that I needed to do something. Since the houses are so far apart on our street, there isn't a lot of neighborhood interaction, especially in the winter. I don't actually know our neighbors all that well. I didn't want to make a meal that wasn't needed but I wanted to do something. So a few days before Christmas, I bundled up all four kids, and the five of us took rakes and raked leaves for an hour. These neighbors have SO many leaves that our hour of raking was like a drop in a bucket. I wanted to make it a teaching moment for the kids, though, that even though it was hard work and they didn't want to do it, we needed to show some support for our neighbors in need. They complained almost the entire time, but I was determined to keep at it until they weren't complaining anymore. By the end, they were working alongside me, and we finished just before the weather turned blustery and cloudy. That evening, the wife came over bearing a warm apple cake to thank us for raking. I was able to get some more details from her about her son's illness. He's in chemo and has lost his hair, so last weekend I knit him a hat.

It's a strange situation because I hardly know these people, yet I feel like I really need to help them. I know that they would be willing to do anything to help us, as the husband has offered various times to help with projects, has lent us tools, and even let us pick his cherry trees last summer.

It's one of those experiences that makes you think about the right things to do. These people actually are my neighbors, not just some random people. I know that the feelings I had were the Holy Ghost telling me to get my rear in gear and love my neighbor and I hope that my children were able to learn something, too.