Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Lousy Neighbors

How could we have let this happen? We're lousy neighbors. It's embarrassing to admit how really lousy we are. Tonight we found out that our neighbor died of cancer.... three and a half years ago. Yes! We had no idea!!

Charles made a home repair, and its origin had to do with a faulty water heater from way back. The repair could have been made years ago, but we had never put two and two together. He thought, "gee, I should tell Mark (not his real name) about this."

Mark was our neighbor. The nicest guy... so friendly and always had a big smile on his face. He loved working in his yard, in the garden, and he loved golf. Sometimes they traveled to Scotland and other places where Mark got to play golf in places that gave him a thrill. He asked us to collect mail and extra papers that arrive while one is gone and can't control what is dropped on one's front step. It wasn't much, but he appreciated our help. It was always fun when they returned, and Mark would retrieve their mail and give us a happy report about the trip.

So when Charles thought about telling Mark about the home repair, he started to realize that he hadn't seen Mark around the neighborhood in quite some time. And.. come to think of it... when the garage door is up, he noticed that there is only one vehicle in the garage.

Well, I am the Queen of Unobservance, so don't ever ask me about who has been in the neighborhood and who has not, or who has only one car when they used to have two. But once Charles mentioned it, I realized I had not seen Mark in a while, either.

I did a Google search and found Mark's obituary. I was shocked, saddened, and feel ashamed that we had no idea! We certainly would have gone to his funeral or at the very least would have spoken some words of comfort to his widow. I am sitting here with a stomach ache, feeling so bad about being such lousy neighbors that we didn't even know he had been sick, let alone that he died.... and so long ago. Dang!!

The last time we saw Mark and Mrs. Mark was when our son graduated from high school. They came over here for the open house party. As usual, they were happy and full of smiles and so friendly. It seems like just a year or two ago. You know how time flies.... It was five years ago! Little did we know that Mark had very little time left on this earth. I always thought we would invite them over for pie and coffee... as soon as we got the house cleaned up, or as soon as we got this or that remodeled. Ha. It never happened.

I feel awful. Tomorrow I will do something. I don't know what. But I will do something. I have to speak to Mrs. Mark. It will be hard to admit what lousy neighbors we are.

Moral of the story: Don't waste any time planning to be nice to your neighbors! Just do it! You might not have as much time as you think!


Nanci said...

Don't beat yourself up like this. Mrs Mark hasn't been around either or even called to say what had happened.
Some neighbours are very private in their life.
Ok five years is a long time, but don't do the flogging over the shoulders thing, just ask how she is now!

sophie said...

This week I had a similar shock (and accompanying guilty feeling about what a bad colleague I was). I had reached out to someone I used to work with in Michigan . . . only to find out that her not-so-old husband died 6 months ago. I felt just horrible to have been out of touch for so long.

Julie Sharer said...

Thanks for the reminder of how precious time is. I am reminded of this each day as I think of things I "should have" said to/done with/taught/shared with my daughter who's now off to college. I have a neighbor who is now in a nursing home and have felt like I "should" do something for her dear husband who still lives next door and spends each and every day with his wife. I'm off next week...perhaps this is my chance to DO something instead of just THINK about it! Hugs!!

Pattilou said...

Most of my life, I've lived in a small town where no one was able to keep anything like a death, private. Now we live in a community where we don't belong to the predominant religion and so much goes on I have no clue about. Some people prefer to remain very private. Mrs. Mark could be one of those people, but don't beat yourself up for not knowing. Now with my new experience of living in a larger city, I can see how something like that could happen. The ambulance could have come during the day when you were working, and with no "crier" in your neighborhood, how could you have known. There may have been a hospital visit and he passed there. That was yesterday...

Today is a new day and just take her a plate of cookies or some fresh peaches before they are all gone--or whatever is currently "fresh" in Michigan.

Wishing I could give you a real hug.

woolywoman said...

well, she never did tell you he as sick or that he had died, which I think is a little odd. I would cut yourself a break and consider a neighbor's party of some kind- potluck? neighborhood watch meeting? if you don't know the neighbors so well. If you had known he had died, you would have done the right thing, but you didn't know