How do we make goodness attractive? By doing whatver we can do to bring courage to those whose lives move near our own-- by treating our "neighbor" at least as well as we treat ourselves and allowing THAT to inform everything that we produce.
--From Fred Roger's Acceptance Speech, Television Hall of Fame
How many of us really know our neighbors? Beyond a wave from the end of the driveway or the occasional conversation about gardening, grilling, the weather, or my beagle's latest escape, I'm not a very good neighbor. I talk to the horses across the street occasionally... I wander over there and chat with their owner, Bob Rose. He amuses me. Each spring, he hitches his horses to an old plow and plows up his garden to plant tomatoes, corn, and giant sunflowers. Unfortunately, on my side of the street, my house is the only owner occupied house. To my east and west is all duplex/triplex apartment things, which typically are occupied for about a year at a time. This just doesn't allow for much getting to know the neighbors.
Since I moved in, my next door neighbor to the west has been Mollie. Mollie is the BEST neighbor. All of us who HAVE lived around this area for more than a year adore her. Bob Rose says she's "just a real neat gal". My neighbor Pat, who has a developmental disability and lives a few doors down with her daughter, considers Mollie a close friend. Each summer evening at about 9 pm, I've heard through the open windows a nightly conversation between Mollie and Pat in which Pat tells Mollie all about her day, and Mollie listens and chats with her.
It took me a while to start to get to know Mollie. We chatted about the flowers and roses left planted in my yard my Miss Lydia Jones, who lived in my house before me. I knew Mollie was a good soul when she told me about her visits with Miss Lydia, and told me how to find her to go and visit her and take her some of her roses the first spring in the house. Miss Lydia loved Mollie, and asked about her when I visited, then kept up with my illness and prognosis through her regular phone calls with Mollie until she died.
Mollie is an animal lover. She has a horse, of course, who she took loving care of and passed the horse and his care onto someone she trusted in light of her upcoming move. She has a dog named Dusty, who I think is the luckiest dog ever. Dusty just lights up when Mollie pulls up in the drive after work, and jumps out of the car with a joyful greeting for her dog, telling him what a good boy he is. My own dogs sit in the window and gaze woefully at Mollie, coveting the happy mommy that comes home from work each day and greets her own pet so happily... I'm usually all "get out of my way until I put my stuff down and take a deep breath, yo."
Seriously, I think my dogs would gladly have an affair with Mollie. They both have little puppy crushes on her.
Mollie was amazing when I got sick. I would call her from KU Med, saying that I was being forced to stay, and could she please check on and feed the dogs... the smartest thing I ever did was give Mollie a key to my house. I knew that if no one else was around, Mollie would totally make sure my animals were not only okay, but that they got some attention during a time when things were pretty rough. She occasionally would come over and take them out for a walk, knowing full well that they were not getting much of anything from me, having been sick for a year. She showed up at the hospital with books and a scrumptious blanket that "had good ju-ju", she said. I held on to that blanket through several hospital stays, ER visits, couch stays, until Mollie had to come over and forcibly rip it away from me. (I'm kidding, she would never do that... but my mom did finally put the blanket away on a shelf to help wean me off of it so that I could return it to Mollie.)
After Sebastian died, and since I had been so sick, I didn't know when or if I'd be ready to have another cat. Mollie knew. She began talking to me about this wonderful little guy who lived out at the barn where her horse was boarded, and was I interested in meeting him. Knowing my financial and health situation, she did every thing possible to ensure that I wouldn't have to spend money, and she took care of running him out for his first vet's visit and all that. That's how Ginx came along.
One day Mollie showed up to ask if I wanted to "ride along" while she went to pick up a foster kitty who had just been spayed. Then she asked if I would consider "fostering" her in my house just until she healed and we could find her a good home. This is Madison:
And they love each other.
Today I checked my mailbox and found an envelope in it with the key to my house... Mollie returned it before she leaves town tomorrow morning. I got all teary about it, knowing that this move and this opportunity to start over in Spokane with a new, wonderful job is just what Mollie needs. I am intensely jealous of the people who's neighborhood she is moving into. They just don't know what an amazing, incredible woman is moving in. This should definitely affect the property values.
Often, when you think you're at the end of something, you're at the beginning of something else. I've felt that many times. My hope for all of us is that the "miles we go before we sleep" will be filled with all the feelings that come from deep caring-- delight, sadness, joy, wisdom--and that in all the endings of our life, we will be able to see the new beginnings.
--The World According to Mister Rogers
We'll Miss You, Mollie!