When I was 16 years old, my father, a strong and generous man, was diagnosed with cancer – malignant melanoma. It was summer in Michigan, and we were optimistic about his chances of survival. Six months later, he was dead. Of all of the things that occurred during that difficult six months; his courage, our tears, family and church support, I carry with me to this day a strong belief in the love of neighbor. Our neighborhood was the type many of us remember growing up. We knew all of our neighbors. We supported one another in a variety of ways. There was sense of belonging. Our neighbor across the street was a registered nurse. Her name was Claudia. She had lived across from our family for about 8 years and greatly admired my father. As the disease progressed and we tried to keep him at home, she was our nurse on call. Any time he needed pain relief, she would simply walk across the street and administer his medication. Even in the middle of the night.
In 1979, most physicians were no longer making house calls. The difference this neighbor made was the difference of a night spent in agony and sleeplessness or one spent in a more bearable pain level and some amount of sleep. The neighborhood I live in now, the one we have raised our children in, is much the same. We know our neighbors, and many of them have become good friends. When I drive into our neighborhood, still blocks from our home, I immediately feel the sense of home as I move down the street. I know them. If they need me I’m here for them and I know they are only a short walk away. Most of us in this United States, live near other people. Whatever goals we are chasing, whatever the demands of our schedules, I believe our lives and our world would improve if we made “neighbors and neighborhood” one of our priorities.
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