My next door neighbor, Mrs. Thompson, passed away following a long illness this past year. She and her husband lived next door to us for as long as I can remember. They knew my husband and I when we were just dating, they attended our wedding, and they shared in many holiday and life experiences with us. I was always surprised by how much interest Mrs. Thompson took in our lives. Despite taking care of her husband, visiting with her many friends, keeping her household and being very active in church activities, she always seemed to know what was going on with us. When my beloved cat died, she wrote me a three page letter about how special he had been her. When we first purchased chickens (an interesting endeavor!), she and her husband were the first to come over with their video camera to chronicle the event. She would call just to check in, and drop by to bring us snacks on the holidays. She always made me feel special, loved, and appreciated.
Her funeral was packed. Much to my surprise, many people stood up to talk about those special letters that she had written them over the years, and all of the kind things that she had done for them. How she had time to do so many things for so many people I will never know. It seemed that she actively remembered everything going on in all of her friends lives, and was always passing her love on to others.
Reflecting back on my own actions, I am sorry to say that the same can’t always be said about me. I get easily caught up in my day to day life, and may go weeks or even months without as much as saying hello to my neighbors. I am not much better with friends or family either. I often get the “are you dead?” call from my mom after a few weeks of forgetting to check in. I am not know for my excellent memory of birthdays either- my big sister often calls me on family members’ birthdays, just to give me a friendly reminder ‘not to forget’.
With this being said, if I could make any new years resolution for self improvement this year, it would be to take note and follow in the footsteps of my good friend and neighbor Mr. Thompson. To try daily to write one personal note, make one phone call, or reach out to at least one friend or family member daily to see what is going on in their lives. I have put the following bible verse on my phone as a daily reminder of this:
Mark 12:30-31 “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.