Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Grandma, the Original Emergency Responder

I am old enough to have lived during a time when people looked after their neighbors. At least that was my grandmother’s philosophy. I remember the visits to my grandparents’ house always included trips to various neighbors as my grandma’s aide. There was never any indication that these trips were a burden on my grandmother and they seemed quite a natural thing to do. The persons we visited were all elderly and in need of some help and seemed to greet my grandmother with great appreciation yet with the same natural acceptance of her visit as if she were related to all of them.

As I look back on it, it was amazing that my grandmother, with no more than a grade school education and no formal training, knew what to bring to everyone and how to tend to their needs. She was efficient without seeming rushed and arranged every visit in some lengthy yet unwritten schedule. There was never money exchanged for any of her services, yet I could guarantee that when cookies or candy were around that I would be showered generously with them.

I wonder if my grandmother’s counterpart lives in my neighborhood. I wonder if that spirit of selflessly taking care of another, with no expectation of reward, exists today. I hope it does. I do feel that urge from time to time as I see one of my elderly neighbors take his trash to the curb, but then he disappears back into his house and I disappear into my own world of activities and responsibilities and then I forget all about him again until trash day allows us to meet again.

Maybe it is time for me to change things up. Make a promise to myself and my grandmother to go to my neighbor’s house and check on him, see how he’s doing, see what he needs and maybe how I can help him. She’d like that. In fact, because she’s my grandma, I'm sure she’ll go with me.

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