You know how you can walk down the same street a thousand times and never give the people inside the houses you pass a second thought? (Unless maybe they’re sitting on their porch in their underwear glaring at you over the railing, in which case you vow never to take that route again… but I digress.)
My husband and I took a stroll last night and when we were passing a house we’ve walked by many times, this time we stopped. An elderly lady had pushed her screen door ajar and was peeking out and motioning us to come up to the house.
I, being me, hesitated… whereas my husband immediately led us up to the lady’s front porch to see if she needed help.
As we got closer, the lady looked distressed. She reminded me of my mother — same age, same strong Italian head of snowy white hair — but her eyes were so pleading, so vulnerable, a lump rose in my throat. We got to the porch and she was still motioning for us to come in and I thought she was confusing us for someone else.
Almost in a whisper, I heard her say, “I have coffee.” Again, waving us to come inside.
A young Filipino woman at the back of the yard, stopped mowing the grass and walked up to us. We asked her if everything was okay and she smiled and said not to worry, that she was with the lady of the house. Then it finally hit me that she wasn’t the neighbour at all, but the caregiver and the lady at the door was in her care.
My husband and I waved goodbye to them both and kept walking. We walked in silence for a bit, both touched by the fragility of a neighbour we might never have met. I still can’t get the look in her eyes out of my mind.
You never know the private heartbreak or loneliness or illness that someone could be suffering right next door. I’m going to try to be a better neighbour and pay more attention from now on.
Six months or so left to his life and this Barrie, Ontario, man is using it to help others… wow.