28 December 2007

It Matters

We got a very heavy snow tonight. The kind of snow that makes each scoop of the shovel bend under its weight. The kind of snow that makes your shoulders ache for days following its arrival on your doorstep.

When we were headed out the door, I saw my neighbor across the road finishing up her driveway.

I've only had one interaction with her so far, and it was the day she came knocking on my door with my recycle bin which I had left on my curb for two days. "I was just wondering if you needed this in the house. You know that the recycle was picked up on Monday, right"? (Don't judge, people. When you're lugging a two year old, a brief case and a diaper bag, snagging the recycle bin just doesn't cross your mind).

I've thought about her many times. Her house is never lit, I'm assuming to save on the electricity. I wonder how she makes it over there, in that big old house, on her own. I've never seen children or grandchildren there, or even another car in her drive. No wonder she kept such close track of her neighbors lack of good citizenship.

Tonight after I finished my drive, I thought about my last post, and I decided to cross over and do hers. The slush was so heavy, I couldn't stand the thought of her trying to scrape herself out. As I was just about finished, she tapped me on the back and nearly gave me a heart attack. I hadn't heard her approaching since I was listening to Gordon Lightfoot sing his warnings to the sun.

"Who are you and what are you doing", she questioned as I slipped my ear pods out.

"I'm Jenn, your neighbor over there. I just wanted to dig you out. The snow is heavy and I don't have my girls and I just figured..." My heart was pounding; I was afraid that I'd insulted her; trespassed upon her property and perhaps taken from her a chore that she enjoyed.

I looked into her eyes as she tucked a gray hair behind her ear. "I'm overwhelmed", she said, biting her lip.

"Oh, well, don't be. I think about you all the time, and tonight I didn't have my girls, so I thought I'd just fill my time this way".

"I didn't think I had a friend in the world," she stammered as the tears welling in my eyes fell from hers. (Trust me lady, I know that feeling).

"I'm overwhelmed," she said again. "What can I do to help you sometime"? I smiled and asked her to just help someone else out and think of me. "I didn't think anyone cared anymore" she said, wiping her eyes.

"Merry Christmas", I smiled at her as she said she'd let me get back to what I was doing.

And what I was doing was shoveling and sobbing. A half an hour of my time gave her something that she obviously desperately needed, something much more than a clear driveway.

And it gave me something, too. Hope. Hope that little by little, I can do it. I can make a difference.

And so can you. So can you.

37 comments:

Loralee Choate said...

That was way better than Mr. Krugar's Christmas.

Seriously warmed my heart.

I think you are one of the best people on the planet. Truly.

P.S.
HRH!!!???(HA HA HA HA HA!)

deb said...

That was lovely and I wanted to cry too but I'm too grumpy right now. Did make me feel better though, not to mention how much better you and your neighbor feel. I'm smiling now.

Kimberly said...

Bringing more hope to the world is always a good thing. It's too bad though, that it's so easy to think about in this season, but not other times of the year.

Somehow, though, I think you'll find a way to bring hope even in the dog days of August.

I hope I can too.

liv said...

Oh, that one just got right to my heart. It feels so good to do the little things, and so very right. Look at all that good energy just streaming forth. Love it.

canape said...

Beautiful, Jenn. Just beautiful

flutter said...

This is so exactly the spirit of this season.

You are golden.

Anonymous said...

I'm sitting here with tears running down my face. You have softened her with your kindness. What a blessing! A.J.

Karen said...

Jenn - that's pretty amazing - both big and small at the same time.

Kerry said...

Thanks for sharing this story! It's the little things that make the difference in someone's life!

I just returned to work and have been trying to have a better attitude and doing my best to serve others. It's the little things I want to do to make someone's day a little brighter.

Thanks for the challenge Jen!

NotAMeanGirl said...

THIS is why I adore you hon. It does matter... and as long as it matters to ONE PERSON... it has an effect. Keep on girlie girl! The Queens have a great example in you!

painted maypole said...

oh. so sweet. so now you know that you need to invite her over for dinner or something. right? be her friend, too, and not just her driveway shoveler.

bubandpie said...

Gasp. This post took my breath away. What an incredible conversation to have - I'm so glad you did.

jeanie said...

Oh what a wonderful story. How healing for both of you.

Amy Y said...

Thank you for sharing this...
We have been doing a lot of shoveling around these parts too. I have a neighbor with a new baby and a husband who's been deployed (maybe to Iraq? we aren't sure) since the baby was born last summer. I noticed some of the neighbors helping keep her driveway shoveled but the other day no one was home and the snow kept piling up. So I finished my driveway and headed over to do hers. It's almost contagious... other neighbors ask why you are doing it and when I say if I were home along with a very little baby, not sure how I was going to get outside and shovel without taking the baby out in that freezing cold weather and how do you leave her in the house alone at 6 months old to shovel your driveway... I'd want someone to do it for me too. And then they start helping too... it's just a great feeling. Even if the neighbor doesn't tap you on the shoulder with tears in her eyes and say thank you. Hopefully, it still mattered. :)

Chaotic Joy said...

Oh Jenn, This post made me cry. They are all around us, walking by us every day these people who feel that noone cares. And I so rarely even make it out of the bubble around my own head long enough to notice them. I, who have so many people who care about me. So many more than I deserve.

Thank you for this post and for showing a kindness to a neighbor when you couldn't possibly have known what it would mean to her.

Family Adventure said...

Beautiful, Jenn, just beautiful. This is what Christmas should be all about. All season.

Heidi

Janet said...

You're good people, Jenn.

bgirl said...

such a great story of what matters...people like you.

Oh, The Joys said...

It's so true. It's like the starfish story.

Omaha Mama said...

That is beautiful. And exactly what I want to do. Change my little corner of the world for the better, instead of darkening it. Yay you!

toddlerplanet said...

Nicely done.

I'm glad she happens to live across the street from you. But then, I guess we all live across the street from somebody, don't we?

Single Mom Seeking said...

You are such an inspiration.

joan said...

What a beautiful post! It makes you wonder how many lonely people there are in the world. What a kind and loving thing you did. I like your blog!

Anonymous said...

It has been too long. I am laying in bed with tears pouring down my face, trying not to wake up J. Oh how I miss you.

justabeachkat said...

So sweet! We all should do more for our neighbors. Thanks for the reminder. I sure love your heart.

Hugs!
Kat

PDX Mama said...

You gave me chills.

Awesome, Jenn. You are good people.

But now I must know, who is HRH??? Have I missed something???

Christine said...

Wow, that story made me so happy and yet so, so sad.

Painted Maypole said what I was going to...she's now told you she has nobody. You're her only somebody.

If you aren't up for the time commitment that responsibility entails (and, frankly, it might be HUGE), send the A's over with cookies while you wave from your front window and other gestures like that.

Because of you, she doesn't feel alone. She's not the only one.

Ally said...

Holy toledo. That was amazing. Wiping away tears now.

Jennifer said...

The little things are really so, so big, aren't they? Wow.

Mary Alice said...

This was lovely. You just never know what act will make all the difference to someone.

Miss Britt said...

Chills.

And nothing to add that you haven't already said, perfectly.

moosh in indy. said...

Everytime you shovel snow, and angel gets its wings.
Or something like that, lovely.

Dawn said...

Wow! I came over here from Suburban Turmoil's Perfect Posts and I am in tears. I really hope your act of kindness will lead you and your neighbor to a meaningful relationship. She's obviously sad and lonely and your gesture meant the world to her. Such a beautiful thing to do for someone and such a beautiful story. Thank you for sharing it and reminding me that simple acts of kindness and sharing can really make a difference in someone's life.

BookMomma said...

Simply wonderful. Thanks for posting. I was having one of those Losing-My-Faith-In-Humanity Days. I will pass this on and think of you.

MERLOT MOM said...

That was a beautiful post. Something I've thought about doing so many times (well not shoveling snow, I live in CA, but you get the idea) but never get around to. I've just discovered your site and I will definitely subscribe. Thanks for the great writing.

The Riddles~ said...

Thank you...so sweet! I almost cried! :) Such a good lesson here.

Value wIT said...

That was nice. Where do you live that it snows? Winters seem so foreign these days. Glad you are getting one.