Neighbors: What makes 'em good?

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Neighbors! We all have them. Whether five miles away or 20 feet away, we are all connected to our neighbors in some way. Neighbors, like friends and family, are part of our daily lives. There isn’t any escaping them. They are always there, close by.

So why am I writing about neighbors? Am I bragging or complaining?  I would like to be modest and say neither, but that wouldn’t be exactly true. Being honest with myself, I would say I am in a state of amazement when it comes to my neighbors, both past and present.

Recently, I heard of a very unpleasant situation between neighbors, and it started me thinking. What makes a good neighbor? Why are some neighbors better than others? Is it their attitude? Is it my attitude? Is it the geographical  location, population density, economical factors, or just plain luck-of-the-draw?

Folks, I wish I could tell you I had the answer for you, but I don’t. All I can say, with absolute certainty, is that I have been most fortunate when it comes to neighbors. Though I try, I am not good at remembering birthdays and anniversaries. But, still, my life has been filled with people who are thoughtful and considerate neighbors! How did this happen? I don’t know.

Starting in college; going to school and working left little time for being social with my neighbors. Yet, the kind and considerate individuals in my apartment building never let me feel left out. There were invitations to dinner, plates of cookies, motorcycle rides, surprise casseroles, and sometimes, flowers left by my front door.  These wonderful people taught me a lot.

Later in life, married and with children; I often found myself juggling work and home life. Birthday parties, sleepovers, meetings, shopping, mealtime, dance lessons, ball games, one activity after another. Sometimes, I wonder how I managed to breathe. How did I manage it all? Neighbors played a huge part in helping me keep it together.

So many wonderfully helpful individuals! There was the young neighbor who gave up a Friday night date to help supervise dozens of  5-year-olds for a birthday party. She knew exactly how to place the kids and the food, and when and where to say “Enough” with the tonality of a drill sergeant mixed with a bit of Mother’s love. In one short evening, the young lady gave me a crash course on crowd control.

Over the years, neighbors have assisted in the raising of my children by teaching them every thing from puffy paints, how to shoot bow and arrow, ride four wheelers, and how to laugh at their own mistakes. These same neighbors would drive tractors, dress up in ridiculous costumes and spend hours making decorations. All done to ensure a good time and fun memories for young children.

Along the way, I, too, was learning. Different neighbors have taught me everything from simple casseroles to how to construct a building on posts to withstand melting permafrost. They have even organized other neighbors to search for our missing puppy.

Neighbors have cared for my animals, mowed my yard, babysat my children, loaned me their automobiles and four wheelers, watered my gardens, given me shelter at -50 F, moved heavy objects, taught me about erecting fence posts and gates, shared their gardens with me, repaired my brakes and even baked special treats to be taken along on my road trips!

These are things done out of kindness; one neighbor to another. I am forever in their debt for they have taught me many lessons in life; the greatest of which is to be a kind, caring, and helpful human being. They led the way with their examples of kindness. Me? I can only look forward to passing on their kindness to others.