Posted by: picturefool | April 9, 2008

Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood

In Atlanta apartments are a dime a dozen. (Or $1500 each, depending on your point of view.) People come and people go and we never had much of a relationship with any of our neighbors. I remember Miss Katherine at what we call “the old-old apartment.” She was older than Jesus and we always flipped when we heard sirens nearing thinking that Miss Katherine had fallen. She did fall, finally, and then proved us to be ageist by recovering fully at a frightening rate. I kept expecting her to turn back into a teenager any minute.

We had a fire at the apartment complex, too, and knew not one soul affected. Strange.

At the “old” apartment there was even less communication with neighbors. Most of our neighbors were just out of their undergrad education and new to jobs or new to grad school. There was also the divorced guy about whom we created elaborate stories of pre-nups that weren’t air-tight and ex-wives who chased him out at gunpoint. We didn’t really know anyone.

Now that we are on a street in a house in a neighborhood I can feel this subtle shift. We haven’t met many neighbors here yet, either. Sam has met them all, I think, since he plays basketball all day every day he can in the front yard. We have met, as a family, our next door neighbors on one side. The day we met the homeowner she told us that her sister had cancer and had gotten some terrible news that day that there was no hope.

I guess that has proved to be true because today we have had cars pulling into the driveway all day long: hospice, home health care supply, home nurse… Apparently the poor lady’s doctor’s office gave out our address by mistake. I’m sending everyone next door as quickly as I can.

It’s complicated for me because any reminder of home health care takes me back to my mom and watching her be so, so sick in a hospital bed in her bedroom. It’s painful and horrible and removes me from a place where I can be truly concerned for the lady next door who is dying.

So, what do I do? Do I stay out of it? Do I take a pot of spaghetti over there? Do I take a card? What is the code of behavior in these circumstances? Growing up everyone hated, feared, hated my grandmother so much that we never received anything but we never gave anything but hell and trouble, either. So, I’m at a loss. WWMRD. What Would Mr. Rogers Do?

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Responses

  1. It’s the South. Always take food. Chances are she’s not up to cooking and can’t really leave to go get anything, so something she can reheat when she needs it is a good idea.

    If her sister is conscious, send bright colorful flowers while she’s still alive to appreciate them. I always wondered in the funeral home if those people ever got flowers BEFORE they died. As for the card, it’s “Just to brighten your day”

    Other nice things to do:
    -Give her your cell and offer to run by the store on the way home if she needs something.
    -Offer to let people park in front of your house. (They will anyway, but still nice to offer)

  2. If you make soup, take that. Somehow it seems most people are comforted by soup.


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