Yesterday, we arrived home from dinner out at an authentic Jersey Diner. I say authentic, because, if you grew up in NJ as I did, then diners outside of the state do not compare to the yummy goodness and colorful service you get at a Jersey diner. That aside, as we arrived home and found an ambulance in front of our house. We immediately knew that our elderly neighbor across the street was ill. She has a variety of health issues and is a shut-in, so we occasionally (but not often enough) pop over to say hi. Well, Josie, upon seeing the ambulance was very upset. She was very curious about what was happening, but that curiosity was fueled by sympathy and empathy. Genuinely concerned, she wanted to know if our neighbor would be okay; if she couldn’t breathe (our neighbor is on oxygen 24/7); who would take care of her cats and the list went on and on. I asked her what we could do to help and she said she wanted to make her a card. I love that she thinks of others and seems to innately realize that our neighbor is frequently alone, sometimes lonely and always appreciates our visits.
Josie often asks to go over and say hello and I often say “not today” because I really don’t have the time to visit for long and our neighbor really likes to talk. Next time she asks, I will say yes. From today on, I will make a conscious effort to be more attentive to our elderly neighbors and relatives. So many of them have reached a point in their lives when they feel they are ready to die because they are the lone survivor of their group of siblings or friends. But we need to help them enjoy the life they have left, by showing interest in the stories of their lives, and enjoying a cup of coffee or sweet treat with them. We need to show them that they are still valued and loved and wanted in this world.
So, we made our cards tonight and will put them in our neighbor’s mailbox tomorrow morning. We would have delivered them tonight, but, as with any preschooler, minor challenges turn into major tantrums. For Josie, the fact that her card did not perfectly fit in the envelope on the first try was too much to bear and her screams and cries and wails echoed throughout the house for quite while. But, as a wise mom once said to me, “This too shall pass” and we will get to try again tomorrow.
Do you have an elderly relative or neighbor who is lonely? What do you do to bring joy to their lives?