more than just neighbors

Friday, March 13, 2009

I’ve been residing in suburban New Jersey for about fourteen years, but it’s just recently that I came to a realization the importance of neighbors being there for each other. The dictionary defines “neighbor” as someone who lives near or next to each other and “neighborly” as someone having or showing qualities befitting a neighbor. But what do you call someone who extends his/her arms to help you? (My husband says “armless”, ha!)Growing up in the Philippines, friendly neighbors are not a rarity. In the Philippines, we call such neighborliness, “bayanihan”. I remember knocking on my grandparents' neighbor’s door asking for a teaspoonful of sugar or an egg. I also remember my grandmother keeping the doors open for anyone who needs help. She always has food for everyone. Someone’s always cooking something for somebody. (By the way, I grew up with my grandparents)I still remember the first few days we moved to our home. I was very pregnant with my 3rd child and busy unpacking when my next door neighbor brought in a cake. I was so thankful of the friendliness. We’ve exchanged quick pleasantries and waved here and there. Not until she had her children that we got close again. (I think we both became SAHMs – stay at home moms by then).

My parents and my husband’s parents used to live five minutes away, so in cases of emergencies, they’re in my house in a jiffy. Now that everyone seemed to move so far away from us, I am really pleased that I have a neighbor who I can rely on being there for me.

We called and knocked on each other’s doors when we need simple little things like sugar or peppers, or Campbell’s mushroom soup for a casserole, or a bucket of ice.

Although our homes are separated with a fence, that fence has an invisible gateway that goes through each of our homes. We don’t abuse each others' generosity and friendship. The relationship is not one-directional. I think we both help each other. I know I can call her when I personally need to vent about something and I know (I hope anyway) that she knows she can do the same thing. They will even brave the cold weather to face the blasting false alarms that yearly go off in my house every time we go away skiing.

In the past year, our youngest sons have become really close. They think they’re brothers! You can’t imagine how pleasant it is to know that your child has a great friend next door! Even though they have a 2 ½ year difference, they don’t seem to get tired of each other (for now anyway)! They even stick up for each other against sometimes not-in-the-mood siblings.

I also have a new neighbor on the other side of our house. Sam and Ken are a young couple. I hope Sam knows that she can definitely count on me, too. I remind myself of my elderly neighbor that used to live in their home. She always took time to wave to me and asked how I was doing. (She’s one fine lady. Helen –wherever you are, thank you!)
I am thankful that I live in this community and lucky that I have a great neighbor. Not just in case of emergencies, but at any time. She’s always there ready to listen to my vents and she always has an open door for me.

Dawn, thank you ever so much! I’m so blessed that we’re more than just neighbors!

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  1. Awww, you're making me cry! You are so sweet Jen Jen...I'm so glad that we are neighbors too!


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