Giving and Receiving December 4 2011
We live nearby, across the street, next door, across the fence.
We have children, parents, grandpas, grandkids.
We share stories –
His of teaching in a one-room school,
Mine of being once again a student, in my seventies,
His of coaching kids in soccer,
Hers of family coming back together for a yearly feast,
Theirs of Star Wars droids and aliens – all in Legos.
We exchange the gifts of witness and of sharing.
He gives me plums across the fence.
I give him back my famous Plum cakes.
I care for her cats and clean their box.
She then visits mine and keeps them fed, when I’m away.
I write a note and stick it in their door –
The printer they had ordered got delivered to my porch.
We walk our dogs, crossing paths repeatedly;
We learn about each other’s lives,
While dogs sniff and bow, barking now and then, leashes twined.
He asks if I’m all right. I’ve been away, and he has missed me.
They climb down from the school bus —
I don’t know why in front of my house and not theirs —
I ask about their day; they smile at me; I marvel at the clothes kids wear to school these days.
Her car is there, but she seems gone. I call. She answers, hoarse.
She has the flu. I wrap and take to her a plate of dinner, and she’s grateful. I wish her speedy wellness.
We share this neighborhood – all ages, sizes, occupations. We’re community – a special kind of family.
We bring a unique richness to each other – gifts of friendship and concern.
Neighborhoods are on my mind these days. Many neighbors from many communities are talking, planning, coming together to learn how to become true neighborhoods — no longer just rows of anonymous houses. After moving away from family and origins pursuing better jobs, coveting material goods, we’ve finally stopped and thought about the legacy we’ve lost. Our families scattered, we long for connection. We’re learning that when we unite to share, we can recreate a wonderful connection with those surrounding us. We can become new extended families, filling in the blanks we made when we moved away. It’s a wonderful source of joy and warmth.