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Wednesday, September 30, 2015


When you live in an apartment these days, as we do, you don't always know your neighbors or know very much about them. People come and go in anonymity, their lives seldom intersecting. We have considered ourselves lucky in our current home, because we have gotten to know various neighbors over the four years that we have lived here. 

With someone like me around, it doesn't hurt that there are dogs involved. That is how we have become acquainted with several of our neighbors. When their Labrador or Heinz 57 or Shih Tzu or West Highland Terrier drags them over to see you, you get to know their names as well as the dog's. Although I must admit that we have referred to people as "Atticus' mommy and daddy" or "Chata's mom" when we can't remember their names. Hey, not to their faces, just to one another. And if it works...

Our next door neighbor's name is Linda, and in true fashion, we became acquainted with her because of seeing her walking her dogs. Eventually we came to know each other's names, and would start to chat when we happened to be coming or going at the same time. Sometimes getting to know someone in passing can be a fascinating thing. I have had many delightful front-door chats with this lovely lady.

I have learned that Linda was raised by her grandparents because her mother had such violent and frequent epileptic seizures that she had to be hospitalized for long-term care. Her grandparents were very strict farm folk, and she wasn't allowed to date or really do anything without her grandparents being around. When Linda ran off and married a much older man when she was about seventeen or eighteen years old, her extended family completely cut off any contact with her. When she told me this, I knew a bit of how she felt, since most of my family cut me out of their lives after Gram died. It is awful.

After Linda and her husband had raised their children, they adopted two more children from Peru. In one of those my-it's-a-small-world moments, I learned that Linda's son had fallen in love with a young woman who was in the USA as a college student. When her Visa expired, Linda's son followed her home - to Budapest! There was a brief time that this young woman was staying with Linda, and it made me feel wonderful to be able to greet her in Hungarian one evening as she passed by. Her face lit up like the sun as she heard me say, "jó estét," or good evening, as she and Linda walked out of the apartment. I think I lit up with sunshine as well to see her so pleased.

Linda had to deal with a dog undergoing cancer treatment and even having his leg amputated. He was happy to be trotting around on his three legs, though. A couple of months ago, Linda told us that she had awakened one morning to find her sweet dog all bloody. The vets said the cancer had returned and spread through his body. She was able to bring him home so that her children and grandchildren could say their goodbyes before he went back to the vet and was released from his suffering.

At about the time this spring that we were having issues with a strange and violent neighbor, Linda seemed to be kind of twittery. She had just had a first date with a gentleman that lived in the complex. Bob had been hesitant to ask her out because he is older than her, but she told him that he was about the age her husband would be if he was still alive. Well, they are now an item, and I couldn't be more pleased. I'm glad that she has found some companionship, and that he is a man who treats her with gentleness and respect.

The other day, my phone rang and the name Linda popped up on the caller ID. I thought, Linda? Linda who? And then it occurred to me that it was my next door neighbor calling. She asked if we had some scissors around the house. When I said to come on over to get them, she told me that she couldn't because she was in too much pain. When I went over with the scissors, Linda asked me to cut off the hospital bracelet on her wrist. She was in a lot of pain and couldn't figure out where her scissors were. Linda told me that she had just had a biopsy of her breast and lymph nodes and was in a lot of pain from the procedure. She will find out soon whether or not she has breast cancer.

At the same time, she is dealing with another frightening situation. One day last week, she went to urinate and found out that she was gushing blood. She went to a local hospital emergency department which ran all sorts of tests that were inconclusive. The doctors told her that she needed to see a specialist because she might have cancer in her bladder and/or kidneys. Even with this possible diagnosis, none of the doctors in the area will be able to see her for another two or three weeks. We are heartbroken for her, and know that she is burdened with a lot of worries.

So, my friends, may I ask you to do something for Linda? Would you please send her some good vibes or juju or karma or prayers or happy thoughts or whatever it is that you believe in? It never hurts to have extra positivity floating around on our behalf. And please remember two things. Life is short, so make sure that you let people know how much you care about them. And take care of yourselves and those you love. Thank you. Be well!


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