#370­­–On behalf of good neighbors . . .

Good neighbors make life more enjoyable. And, in the case of those who live alone, make living alone possible. I, fortunately, have and have had good neighbors. I could even say wonderful neighbors.

When I underwent five months of chemo back in 2014–15, it was my sister (who stayed with me twice for prolonged periods), my friends, and my neighbors, Hope and Ruth, who helped me get through it. My neighbors brought me dinners; took me to doctors’ appointments, which were in town; took me to treatments (especially Hope), which were in Eugene; took me to the grocery store and on other errands, because as long as I was on strong drugs, I couldn’t drive.

Here I am with my sister, who came to stay with me both during chemo and later during the knee replacement.

Hope was incredibly helpful during my battle with chemo–taking me to more than half the treatments, having lists of questions to ask the doctor, finding supplements for me to take, knitting me caps to keep my bald head warm, and much more.

My stairlift, along with my sister’s two-week stay and my neighbors help for the next month, allowed me to stay home when I had a total knee replacement.

Later in January 2020, when I had total knee replacement surgery, it was the stairlift, my sister, and my neighbors that allowed me to stay home during the recuperation. My sister stayed with me for two weeks, after that, the neighbors took over. Once again, I couldn’t drive. This time it was for six weeks. So, neighbors took me grocery shopping and errands, as well as to to six weeks of physical therapy appointments. And there was the occasional, wonderful, surprise dinners.

In April 2020, I had a vein at my ankle rupture while in the shower. I got blood all over the place while trying to stop the flow. If it ever happens again, I will use a tourniquet. I finally called my renter, Carole, who lives downstairs, which I converted into an apartment several years ago. She came up and applied a pressure bandage, stopping the bleeding. Then she got me settled on the bed with my leg elevated and cleaned up the whole bloody mess that covered more than one room. Later in the day, she even brought me lunch. Besides being a good renter, she’s become a friend and a good neighbor.

I finally used a partial roll of paper towels and a red stretchy used for physical therapy to staunch the flow of blood.

During the Covid lockdown, I didn’t make my usual trip to California to be with family and see friends during the holidays. So, it was really nice to have my neighbor, Ruth, over for Christmas dinner two years in a row, where we both contributed to the meal.

Our road is not considered a county road, so every once in awhile, we collect money to fill potholes and one time for a major paving project. And people contributed mostly willingly. For the potholes, it’s usually one person––sometimes with helpers––who do the work. Years ago, another neighbor went around cutting off tree branches that hung out too far into the road.  Both actions contributed to the betterment of the neighborhood.

I’ve lived here for 37 years and have seen several new houses built and people come and people go. And many folks have been here for many years. I think, what I like most is the camaraderie. I like walking around the loop and chatting with folks along the way. I like standing in the middle of the road and chatting with my neighbors. I like working in the yard or washing the car and chatting with folks walking by with their dogs on leash. It’s not just your house that is home, but the neighborhood is home also.

It seemed Jetson would turn on an afterburner when he leaped up on the roof. He did it every day for ;years! ––This painting and previous illustration by Karen D. Nichols.

One of my early neighbors, the Farms––1987–94 approximately, shared their cat with me––Jetson. He would jump up on my roof between 6 and 7 a.m, look in my second-story office window, and I’d let him in. Then at 8 a.m., I’d open the window and out he’d go. He also napped on my compost pile, stalked birds at my feeders, and sat on my roof to enjoy the sun. He simply incorporated me, my house, and yard into his territory. After his family moved a couple miles away, he returned to our neighborhood cross country again and again, until the new family that moved into the house next door agreed to take him on as their pet, where he continued his usual way of life. When they left the following year, I took on his care for the next 11 years. Jetson was a wonderful pet for me, and the most amazing cat I ever knew.  

Now, 28 years or so after they moved away, the Farms are moving back. During this past year, as they were building their new home on the lot next door to me, I referred to them as my former and future neighbors. They actually moved in over the Christmas holidays.  So, a week ago, I did an old-fashioned, neighborly courtesy. I took over a Tupperware container containing one of my favorite recipes to help welcome them back. We had a lovely visit, and I got to see their fabulous new home.

Because I had no computer for most of this past week and then had to spend Friday going to Eugene to undergo a laser procedure to correct some cloudiness in my vision, which was a result of the cataract removal surgery I had last summer, I didn’t have time to do my blog post that goes live nearly every Friday at 6 a.m. My neighbor, Ruth, saw that explanation on Facebooks where I post about by blog each Thursday.

On Saturday night, Ruth fixed a wonderful dinner and we sat and caught up for the next three hours. Because we both lead busy lives, we rarely see each other for any length of time. So, this was a nice relaxing evening for both of us.

And she called and invited me over for dinner, knowing that I would be tired, after my trip to and from Eugene for my eye procedure. What a wonderful, neighborly thing to do. As it turned out, I had just finished a late lunch and was about to take a nap, so I begged off. She suggested Saturday night, and I gladly accepted. I greatly appreciate her thoughtfulness.

Over the years, I’ve enjoyed the incredible help, friendly camaraderie, and wonderful thoughtfulness of my neighbors and know I’m very fortunate.

By the way, I hope the Farms like potato salad!

Everything I’ve written about so far has been since my late husband, Walt, passed away in 2001. But one of the most amazing acts of neighbors helping neighbors occurred in early 1988, about March, I think. Walt had just barely survived his first go-around with chemo for late-stage Hodgkins, a form of cancer. While he was in the hospital, the fiberglass greenhouse that we had ordered a couple of months before had arrived.

The greenhouse measures 17 by 8 feet––larger than I could handle by myself.

I had hacked out with a pick and shovel where it should go, while he was in the hospital. But I could not move it by myself. My neighbor up the hill, Margaret Trimble organized a group of neighbors–Chuck Chiquette and Warren Twiggs, as well as her husband, Bill, and herself. They came with measuring tape, shovels, picks, and lots of energy and determination. They were all 65+ then and no longer with us now. I split my time between tending to Walt and helping them. By mid-day, a shallow trench was dug, and the greenhouse lifted, moved and set in it. Then dirt was packed down around it––both inside and outside. I had prepared a lunch for all of us that we ate at our brand new picnic table.

A few days later, after a load of gravel arrived, Chuck wheel-barreled it around, while he and I spread it. That whole experience was above and beyond anything I had experienced before and cemented firm friendships that lasted decades. There is simply nothing like good neighbors.

About crossingsauthor

Judy Fleagle spent 22 years teaching 1st and 2nd grades and 21 years as editor/staff writer with Oregon Coast and Northwest Travel magazines.Since 2009, she has written five books: "Crossings: McCullough's Coastal Bridges," "The Crossings Guide to Oregon's Coastal Spans," "Around Florence," "Devil Cat and Other Colorful Animals I Have Known," and "The Oregon Coast Guide to the UNEXPECTED!!!."
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2 Responses to #370­­–On behalf of good neighbors . . .

  1. Thanks! At least somebody does!!!

  2. Doug Yunker says:

    Always enjoy your column. Thanks

Comments are closed.