To have a good neighbor, you must be a good neighbor.
That’s not necessarily a quote from some famous person but something I’ve always thought myself. It kind of follows the “Do unto others as you would have others do unto you” rule – the Golden Rule.
That concept comes from Jesus’ words in the Biblical books of Matthew 7:12 and Luke 6:31. I not only learned the Golden Rule in Sunday School lessons, but my parents taught it to me when I was a young child.
Having lived in different neighborhoods in different states during my life thus far, I found myself blessed with some truly good neighbors.
“Definition of good neighbor: someone to be trusted; a courteous, friendly source of help when help is needed; someone you can count on; someone who cares.” ~ Edward B. Rust, Jr.
As a very young child, one of my neighbors was the same age and became my playmate. We not only went to school together but church too. And not surprisingly, she became one of my best friends for life.
We were only neighbors over 50 years ago, but just a couple of years ago, she and her husband moved closer to where I live. So once again, we are neighbors although we live a little more than 1/2 mile apart. My neighbor/friend is someone I can totally trust, someone who genuinely cares about me, and someone I can confide in and count on to lend a helping hand.
When I was growing up, our next door neighbors’ daughter also became one of my life-long best friends, even though we lived many miles apart after becoming adults. She has always fit that good neighbor definition too. We have traded confidences more times than I can remember and I’m confident she is always there with a listening ear and caring heart. I know she has my back.
As a young, single college grad embarking on a career, I accepted a position in a small town where I knew absolutely no one. During my time living there, I had an exceptional neighbor who also was my landlady. Her husband worked night shifts and we became fast friends, spending evenings talking or just watching TV and sometimes eating dinners together. She was a godsend to me at a lonely time in my life.
Fast forward a few years, as a married military wife, I once again was blessed with a great next-door neighbor when we lived in Army post officer’s quarters. Both of us were first-time mothers and we shared experiences, fears, and joys with each other. What a blessing it was to have such a good friend just steps away right next door.
“A good neighbor is a very desirable thing.” ~Thomas Jefferson
Once Papa and I left military life, he changed careers and we landed in a Midwestern city far from our families in our home state. There we purchased our first house and again, didn’t know one person who lived in the area. But one day, a neighbor arrived at my door with her young daughters in tow to welcome me to the neighborhood.
Once more God intervened and provided a wonderful neighbor for me just two doors away with assurance I could count on her anytime for help. Our children became playmates and good friends, and this helpful neighbor watched our oldest daughter while I labored bringing our next child into this world at a nearby hospital.
Neither Papa nor I worried about leaving our little one with our neighbor because we trusted her completely and knew our daughter was in good hands. Just like the advertisement jingles for insurance companies– like a good neighbor, she was there. And we still keep in touch with one another after many years (and moves for us) have passed by.
Likewise, when our family moved to another part of the country to a brand new home in a brand new subdivision, great neighbors became part of the deal. We enjoyed social gatherings, our children played together, and sometimes we even celebrated holidays with each other since our native families lived far away. It was a truly amazing neighborhood with fine folks.
I wonder if people are neighborly like that any longer. Now it seems everyone just goes about their own way, not even acknowledging their neighbors let alone helping them. I sincerely hope I’m wrong about that and if you have or are a good neighbor, please let me know and restore my faith in neighborly kindness.
“God does not need your good works, but your neighbor does.” ~ Martin Luther
What prompted me to write about good neighbors is an incident that happened just last week. Papa and I live in a rural area on a two-acre plot of land. When we moved into our newly built home 22 years ago, no friendly neighbors greeted us. Life here proved different than it was when we lived in villages, towns, suburbs, or on a military post.
We do have neighbors in the vicinity, but we not only don’t know them (or even their names) but some of them we’ve never actually seen. They come and go in their vehicles and mind their own business, not being neighborly at all.
It’s not that they are bad neighbors, they just aren’t friendly either. When I once attempted a nice favor for one of them, I was rebuffed at the front door. Still others, we’ve waved to and have been ignored.
Except for one. Not too long after we moved into our home, a single man moved into the house closest to ours. Oh boy, we imagined that there might be a lot of noise, people coming and going, parties, etc. Not so.
Our neighbor Joe (not his real name) has been a quiet and good neighbor. He became a single dad, raising his young teen daughter, and he never caused any kind of disturbance or issue. Instead, he always chats with Papa when they are both outside mowing or working in the yard. He watches our home when we’re away and we watch his for the same reason.
Joe’s been helpful on more than one occasion, loaning us his rototiller for our garden or helping Papa repair something awry, lugging a huge Barbie house and assorted accoutrements that his daughter outgrew over to give to our granddaughter.
He has been and continues to be a good neighbor. Just last week, he really fit the bill. Papa was down and out for several weeks with a respiratory illness, not feeling well enough to attach the snowplow to our trusty John Deere lawn and garden tractor.
And then it snowed and snowed and snowed, finally stopping after around eight inches of accumulation.
Papa bundled up and shoveled our sidewalk and then, since he couldn’t plow the driveway out, he pulled out the snow blower, which doesn’t really work that well in deep snow and on a long, gravel driveway.
Suddenly, there came Joe on his four-wheeler with a plow attached to the front of it. He cleared out our entire driveway and turn-around area. Neighbor helping neighbor. Lending a hand. Being there just when he’s needed.
We couldn’t thank him enough for his kindness and thoughtfulness. His response? “No problem!”
Joe is the kind of neighbor we’re grateful to have. And we try our best to reciprocate neighborly friendliness and helpfulness to him. In order to show our appreciation for him, he’ll be getting extra goodies from our garden this coming summer for sure.
Good neighbors. They are a blessing. And we all can be that blessing to others. I only hope that I have been just as good of a neighbor to all the people I’ve written about here as they were to me.
“Good exercise for the heart: reach out and help your neighbor.” ~ Mark Twain