Our elderly neighbor just brought a newspaper clipping and a plate of WARM chocolate chip cookies to my door. She said she appreciates the help we give her by clearing her sidewalk and driveway when it snows.
I gave her a hug and a hearty thank you. She said, “Thank you for being a good neighbor.” Tears sprang into my eyes. I choked back the tears as I tried to squeeze out the words to explain why I was crying.
I’m not sure she understood. I think she was more than a little surprised by my tears. Those who know me well are not surprised by the tears, though!
I decided to use this, my very first blog post, to reflect on those tears.
Today is the 1 year anniversary of the day my dad died. He was the youngest of 8 children and was born just a couple of years after the Depression hit. He always felt not quite good enough. He felt that he was from the “wrong side of the tracks.” His brothers and sisters were all “smart as a tack” and loved to laugh and eat. Most of all, they loved each other and the whole family, too.
When he died last year, he was the last of the original Sligers. I have thought about him all day today sitting around in heaven somewhere with all those people and with other friends from long ago — shooting the breeze and laughing their heads off.
The Sliger family rules, according to my Aunt Ruthie (who died a little over 7 years ago) were simple and few:
- Always vote.
- Be a good neighbor.
The unspoken rules were there too:
- Go to the hospital and stay there when someone you love is there.
- Home made food is best.
- Love your family no matter what.
So when my neighbor brought me these warm chocolate chip cookies on this cold grey February day and said I was a good neighbor, the tears started to flow because I know my dad (and the whole Sliger bunch for that matter!) are all very proud of me.
I think those tears were not just simple tears. They were —
Tears of thankfulness
for this wonderful life that I’ve had and have
Tears of sadness that so many people I love
are no longer here on earth,
Tears of faith that I know they are healthy,
happy and whole
(and together with Jesus!)
Tears of love, sorrow, and joy.