Post Title: Sweet New Neighbors: A Similar Mobility Journey

New Neighbors

When my brother and I learned we had new neighbors, we were curious. We started seeing the husband outside quite frequently. In the past, we rarely knew the other residents. That might have been because they used their back door as their main entrance and exit, which faces a side street. We are the only two houses on the block, so it’s nice to finally get to know the people we live next to.

“The man’s name is William,” my brother said. “He replaced all the windows, He is making the garage into a laundry room and they’re re-doing the bathroom.”

“Wow! Great to hear that! That one window has been broken forever. I’m so glad he replaced it.” The last two tenants had left it broken.

Meeting William and Susan

One day I met William myself when I was out in search of my brother. He was by the side of the house that faced ours. I found out he came from West Virginia, was retired but his career had been overseeing oil rigs.

“I went to college for two years in the Ohio Valley in West Virginia,” I crowed.

Mike and he hit it off well, too. Right away Mike offered his truck for William—or Bill, as he told us to call him—to drop off the remnants of his bathroom.

Bill also helped us change our Culligan Water bottle, which was too heavy for my brother with his heart condition to manage.

On another afternoon, I met Bill’s wife, Susan. My brother said she was in my garage but I didn’t hear who “she” was. But I found out quickly enough. Susan loved my cats, which she often saw at the window. She said she had come over to meet me and get an up-close view of the cats if she were lucky.

She used a walker and explained she had recently had hip surgery.

Susan and I had a nice chat and I promised to go to visit her at her house. I instantly felt comfortable with both Susan and Bill. She’s still adjusting to the smaller house, which she calls “a cabin.” That came as a surprise and made me chuckle. Susan was used to being in the country and having her space.

Little by little, we became better acquainted. I loved listening to Susan talk about her family. I never knew what to expect next from her stories.

My First Visit

The first day I stopped over to drop off some macaroni salad, I talked with Bill. Susan came home from her physical therapy. She surprised me by using only a support cane.

“My physical therapist said I need to use my walker and stand up straight,” she declared. “But I wanted to see if I could walk with a cane. And I can. But she made a big fuss and stressed I need to stop looking at the ground.” Susan sounded frustrated. “I’m afraid if I don’t look at the ground, I’ll trip.”

“Ohhh, I can relate! I wrote a story called ‘It Matters Where You Look’ after a session with my cane trainer.” We looked at each other and connected on that level, too. We compared notes on our similar mobility journey. Then Susan agreed. “That sounds like something my Physical Therapist would say.”

Lawn Care Assistance and Cookout

When our lawn mower broke down, Bill offered to mow our grass with his riding mower and also change the water for the fourth week in a row.

Mike had also agreed to let him use the truck a couple more times.

“How else can we thank them?” I asked Mike.

“Well, you said you noticed an outdoor grill. I can buy some steaks for all of us.”

“Great idea!” I thought for a minute. “Yeah, and what about corn on the cob?”

That same day, Mike stopped by to ask our neighbors what they thought about a shared meal. They were delighted, Mike went out and bought the steaks and corn.

My brother couldn’t wait for our dinner! He took the steaks over on the morning before so Bill would have them to marinade.

That afternoon Susan called me to ask what we wanted for the rest of the meal. “The rest? We don’t want you to go to any trouble.” Then an idea came to me. “Maybe zucchini?” It was the only other thing I could think of to add to a grilled cookout.

Susan didn’t know how to grill zucchini but she didn’t seem troubled by it.

That evening, Mike told me to drop off the corn.

We still had one day to go before our cookout.

A Sit Down Inside Meal

Even though Susan was recovering from hip surgery and also struggled with Multiple Sclerosis (MS), she prepared more food than we ever dreamed. It included the steaks and corn on the cob roasted in their husks on the grill, zucchini banana bread, two kinds of potatoes—baked and sweet potatoes (I made cinnamon butter), coleslaw, watermelon with Himalayan salt, and for dessert, strawberry shortcake.

Although Bill grilled our contributions to the meal outdoors, we had a proper sit-down meal indoors.

I was still getting used to the layout of their house, so I should have brought my white cane. It seemed strange to use it just going next door—but the truth is, I really needed it. I had to walk carefully without it, using tiny steps so I wouldn’t miss anything. I never realized how important my white cane is for orienting myself in new inside locations.

Minor Glitches and a Message

Dinner went great! We had only two minor glitches—one for me, and one for Susan. First, when I asked for pink lemonade, I thought my glass was not under the spout of the heavy glass pitcher so I moved my glass. Pink lemonade gushed out over my arm and onto the table alike. Uh-oh!  Susan took the blame herself, though it was my fault. The other, and this still makes me laugh, was Susan. She burned the baked zucchini—and I loved that she served it anyway. She was my kind of person!

I saw it as a message—Life is just what it is, in all its imperfection. That’s all right. It’s part of the experience, and isn’t life grand? Don’t sweat the small stuff. 

I stayed longer than my brother. The warm, relaxed atmosphere filled a space in my heart I didn’t know I had.

Gratitude for Good Neighbors

“Thank you so much, both of you. You weren’t supposed to make any food. We just wanted to thank you,” I repeated.

Susan smiled at me. “That’s what neighbors are for. They help each other.”

God’s Hand in Our Meeting

Having good neighbors has blessed us. In the past whenever I’ve gone through really tough times, God has placed people in my life to help me stay focused on the positive and bear the challenges. I think God is at work again.

This has been a challenging year for Mike and me, with him having so many visits to the hospital—six or seven in the last few months—because of his heart. It has overwhelmed and stressed me out. Mike has also needed support and kindness.

God is blessing both families. It’s nice to be welcomed into the neighborhood, and it’s lovely to have good neighbors who help each other.

When I think of Susan’s mobility issues, I’m certain God has divinely placed us together to encourage each other. Certainly, Mike didn’t know anything about her challenges when he gave her my book on mobility.

When Susan tells a story, I never know how it will end up. But when God adds new chapters to my life story, I’ve learned to trust that he’s working it all out to end up well.

In the comments below, share a time when you’ve seen God’s hand in the people you’ve encountered.

You’ve just read “Sweet New Neighbors: A Similar Mobility Journey” by Amy L. Bovaird. © July 6, 2021. All Rights Reserved.