Friday, November 4, 2011

The Widow Next Door

I notice my husband, Jeff, standing very still at the living room window. At the moment, however, I am busy chasing our two-year-old son. On my second pass through the living room, I see Jeff putting his shoes back on.

He had only been home from work a few minutes.

“Where are you going?”

“The garbage trucks came by two days ago, but Kay’s trashcans are still on the curb.”

Jeff says this with a sense of urgency that I fail to understand.

“That’s nice, Honey, but could you bring them in for her after you help me get this boy into the bathtub?”

“Denise, she has M.S., remember? Maybe the cans are still out there because she’s having one of those spells. Maybe she needs help.”

I feel silly. Here I am, the person who is in this house every minute of every day, yet I am not the one who notices our neighbor’s trashcans still sitting on the street.

Jeff knocks on her door.

After a few minutes of no response, I assume she’s not home – even though her car is in the driveway.

“Come on, Jeff. Let’s get her cans for her and go home.”

But Jeff insists on giving Kay more time.

“She has to move slowly,” he says, “so we have to give her extra time to answer the door.”

I realize he’s right. Again.

A moment later, Kay opens her door. She looks tired, but she assures us that she’s fine. She’s just having a rough couple of days, physically speaking. We exchange numbers, though, so she can call us if she ever needs anything.

* * * * *

This happened more than five years ago. Everything was okay, but I learned an important lesson. We have a responsibility to our neighbor, in a real and tangible sense. And Jeff was much more attuned to this need than I was.

"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this:
to look after orphans and widows." – James 1:27a

God calls His people to care for widows and orphans.

Over the years, I have observed Jeff, on more than one occasion, caring for widows and orphans. Because Jeff is an orphan himself, he has an expanded heart for those who have lost someone through death. Kay is a widow in her mid-fifties. She lives alone, and she lives with Multiple Sclerosis.

Through my husband, God has opened my eyes to see needs around me that I previously couldn’t see.

This past Sunday night, our doorbell rang. Kay brought over a large bag of candy and asked us to pass it out to trick-or-treaters. She doesn’t have the strength to get up and answer the door every few minutes when more kids come by, but she wanted to participate in the neighborhood’s festivities in some way.

So on Halloween night, she kept her porch light on, and she posted a sign on her door that directed foot-traffic to our house, where we dispersed candy from two different bowls: hers and ours.

It was such a small thing. But it made me smile.

Our relationship with our neighbor is due to my husband noticing something everyone on our cul-de-sac, including myself, missed. But Jeff realized its larger significance. And he took the time to care.

Is there someone on your street you could reach out to?
Do you know a widow who your family could include?



Sonya Lee Thompson said...

What a beautiful post, D.J.!! My husband is what I call "the good samaritan" because he also notices those down trodden when I am too busy to see them. Thank you for this precious reminder. God bless you and your husband (and neighbor!)

Marsha @Spots and Wrinkles said...

This sounds just like Jeff. :)

A multi-dimensional life said...

What a beautiful act of kindness and love! You both served her well as you handed out her candy with yours. It shows that she feels she can count on you and I am sure her heart was touched by your husbands act of kindness and
his being observant of his surroundings and keeping the commandment of loving our neighbors as ourselves. It touches me just reading this!

Linda Chapman said...

A thoughtful and inspiring post! I just came over from your Mother's two are 'birds of a feather.' I am your newest follower!

Sonja said...

That story just touched me. You are right, it's those little things that make so much difference, to someone else as well as a blessing to us.

Maybe one of the rewards will be that you both will enjoy a queen size instead of a double bed when you go home to visit!! :)

Anonymous said...

What a great reminder of how we are all safer and stronger as we rely on each other. I think this is exactly the kind of work Jesus had in mind for us to do as we go about building the kingdom of God.

Your story inspires me to look for more doors to open.

Blessed are those who open doors, for they shall find the kingdom of God.

Warren Baldwin said...

A wonderful story. And a challenge. Yes, there are people on our street, and widows in our community, that we can and should give more attention to. Great post!

Susan Hill said...

wow. After having three kids on the autism spectrum, I now notice those who struggle with special needs more. I never saw them before, but now?...I understand. And it also made me think about how little I connect with my current neighbors. Hmmm... (I think I needed this!) thanks...

Author Amanda Beth said...

Great post! I was bummed when we moved into our house and all our neighbors were old. I wanted to live where there were a lot of children in the neighborhood. But since we moved in 7 years ago, we have grown so close to our neighbors that it has turned into a blessing being here.

We just lost one of our neighbors last year. Our children used to call her grandma. She loved them dearly. We know now that God put us here for a reason, to help them.

Thanks for reminding us to care for others.

Blessings to you:)

Denise J. Hughes said...

Sonya: Thank the Lord for husbands who are Good Samaritans!

Marsha: Yep!

Multi: Loving our neighbors is, indeed, the second greatest command. Thanks for reminding us!

Linda: Hello. It's nice to "meet" you.

Sonja: That's funny.

Matthew: Yes, let's keep our eyes open to those "open doors"!

Warren: I think you are right. There are always a few more neighbors, a few more doors down, who just may need a helping hand or an encouraging word!

Susan: Bless you for your tenderness towards those with special needs.

Amanda: Our kids call a few folks around us "grandma" or "grandpa." I think you bring up an important point. Those who are elderly have so much to give, and they enrich our lives so much when we invite them into our lives.