My neighbor died today. Her granddaughter found her on the floor at home, apparently dead of a heart attack.
Her little dog was frantic, as you might imagine, and the granddaughter is taking the pup home for now. She told me she hopes one of her cousins will take him in as she’s due any day with her first child and doesn’t need the additional burden.
This lady was nice, with a wry sense of humor and countless grandchildren who took advantage of her. The police were at the apartment keeping them out; they all insisted they had things they owned in that apartment, and likely some did, but at this point under the law it all belongs to her and her estate.
I suppose the police would need to wait for the locks to be changed, because you can bet those kids all had keys. This wasn’t an entirely bad group, but one or two were pretty awful. One young man came to my door early on asking for the passcode to my wireless account. When I refused to give it to him, he broke into my apartment and got it off of the wireless box. Of course I changed the passcode and now he’s in jail for breaking & entering as well as felony theft. In my state, you serve time for theft of services.
Now, mine wasn’t the only apartment he broke into; I didn’t report the crime until the police came to me. And I shouldn’t say he broke in, although legally it was B&E. I’d left the door unlocked when I went to get my mail and he ran in then. Creepy. I lock the door now even when I take the garbage out.
But I don’t hold it against my late neighbor. I liked her. She did her best and I know she was struggling financially, or she wouldn’t have been living in these apartments. She didn’t own a car, in fact, she maybe didn’t even drive. She was disabled and couldn’t walk in a straight line very well because of the way her body was twisted. I’m not sure her vision was very good, either.
It’s funny the impact virtual strangers have on your life. I don’t know this lady’s name and I never had much of a conversation with her, but I appreciated her as a neighbor. She was kind and courteous. She loved her grandchildren, and despite what I’ve said so far I’m sure most of them are good people, young, perhaps, and a little thoughtless, but they will miss her. The granddaughter I saw today certainly seemed genuinely upset.
We wonder about the impact we have on others’ lives, and it can be as simple as being a good neighbor. Earlier this week I was walking into the grocery store and smiled at a woman approaching from a different direction. She smiled back, a genuine, friendly smile that made feel good. I’d been having a difficult day. It made a difference.
“Thank you for smiling!” I told her.
“And thank you for smiling, too!” she said back cheerily. I felt good the rest of the day. That woman is important to me in that small way.
If ever you are feeling unimportant, if ever you wonder your value in life, it is there. It is in the small things and the grand, for life is made of all those things.
But mostly the everyday things.
Image Credits: (Leaves) © milavas — Fotolia; (Smileys) © Stuart Miles — Fotolia