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I’ve always had a bit of a jaded attitude toward the world we live in.
My parents, both part of the baby boom era, were older than the parents of the other kids in school. Both grew up on farms where work was something you did if you wanted to keep food on the table and clothes on your back.
From the stories they’ve told all my life, neighbors were an integral part of day-to-day life. You shared what you had with your neighbor, though it may not be much, and you helped each other in whatever way you could.
The 1950s and ’60s are long since gone, but around my house, little pieces of the days when my parents were coming of age still linger in the air.
When I was born and my brother was 5, my mom quit her public job to take care of us. She was up at the crack of dawn every morning. During the summers then and to this day, she gardened and canned or froze the majority of the vegetables that came from her labor. There was always enough to share with neighbors, aunts, uncles, grandparents, cousins and whoever else she could give it to.
She cooked, cleaned, mowed, washed clothes and ironed. When Dad came home from work, supper was always on the table around 5:30 p.m. and then she would follow dad to the tobacco field, sometimes working till sundown.
Though they’ve both aged, they still work just as hard as they did 20 years ago and maybe even harder.
I’ve always felt blessed to have been raised by two of the most hard-working, loving and caring people I’ve ever met. Though they might not realize it, while raising me they instilled in me the importance of caring for those who surround us.
I’ve always wondered why all families couldn’t be like mine, why people don’t look out for one another like when my parents were growing up; and why the fast-paced lives so many seem to be living overshadow the things that really matter in life. All of these things combined have made me a little bitter – until recently.
A couple of weeks ago mom got hurt in a lawn mower accident. That night, she came home from the doctor’s office with a black eye that was swollen completely shut and stitches. Much to her disliking, the doctor advised her to stay in bed or on the couch for two weeks unless she wanted bigger problems, like possibly losing her eyesight.
That night, I began taking on all of Mom’s daily responsibilities – washing clothes, watering flowers, cooking, washing dishes, going to the garden each night to pick over everything that was ready. Unfortunately for me, the blackberries decided to start bearing about three days into mom’s downtime.
I got a crash-course in what to do when you burn yourself on the stove (call grandma). I also learned people aren’t quite as non-caring as I had thought.
From the time mom’s accident happened up until her last few days down, it seemed someone was doing something for her. Phone calls, cards of get-well wishes, food and even some of the small tasks I forgot to carry out were completed.
The day of the accident, I was in town and Dad was at work, so who was there to give mom a drink, a cold wash cloth and offered to take mom to the doctor’s office but a neighbor? Who was there to take our trash to the road one early Friday morning because I forgot? A neighbor, of course. And who provided a couple of meals and one heck of a chocolate pie? You guessed it, a neighbor.
I’ve never liked to admit to being wrong, but this time I think I’ll accept it with ease. I was wrong. We live in an ever-changing, fast-paced world and not everyone lives like my family, but there are still people out there who will always be willing to help when things aren’t going like they should. There will always be someone willing to do their part in lending a helping hand or carrying out a neighborly deed, no matter how much our world continues to change.