More than 8 million older adults suffer isolation and it’s becoming a health epidemic. Prolonged isolation is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Yet, isolation can happen at any age. National Good Neighbor Day, on September 28, is all about connecting with those around us.
Back when I was a young kid, good neighbors were just about all there were. Bad neighbors? I never heard my parents complain, and it seemed in my juvenile perspective that on my block, everyone looked out for everyone else.
Especially Mrs. Demers.
She lived two houses down from mine and my earliest recollections were of going either to her house and playing while Mom visited or vice versa.
Laughter and cigarette smoke filled the air of our small kitchen. I’m sure there was plenty of grownup talk that I ignored, but when Mom went back to college, it involved long absences after school. Mrs. Demers opened her front door and wave as I walked home from school. She checked on me and my older sister. Often, she had snacks for us too.
Mom never had the chance to reciprocate because schooling continued for five years which then led to a full time job. That didn’t deter Mrs. Demers. Her smile, and her after school check-in continued without any expectation of payback.
So, when I think of Good Neighbor Day, I think of Mrs. Demers. Funny thing back then, we didn’t need a Good Neighbor Day as a reminder....it’s just who our parents tried to be.
In our busy e-connected lives, being a good neighbor can go well beyond the block. In many ways being a good neighbor can happen anywhere we are. But I’m going to take Mrs. Demers’ inspiration and open the door of my heart and see if there’s a neighbor I can bless.
Love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:39