The cries came through the closed windows. My neighbor, whom I have only said “Hello” to as I walked past her house, was crying out for her husband.
It depends on where you live and how you encounter him if you think him a good person or bad. They are owners of a successful family business around the corner. They have family living closer to them than I do who work there.
They are both quite elderly and have trouble moving about. Perhaps he is too deaf, I think. Maybe that is why he has never acknowledged me when I tried to say hello.
He yells. Loudly and repeatedly. If they are going somewhere and she cannot get out of the house quickly enough, he sounds the car horn until she arrives. Forever, it seems. Loud, obnoxious horn blasts.
Two blocks away, the mailman is shaking his head and laughing at the sound. I do not laugh. I try to give him the benefit of the doubt, but my first instinct is to not like him very much at all.
Today he apparently left her sitting in the sun on the back steps. She thought he was in the house but his car was not in the driveway. It turned very warm today and she was still wearing two red sweaters to protect from the morning chill.
It turned warm in the afternoon and I opened my windows. That was when I clearly heard her calling for her husband, over and over as she sat on the back steps.
I looked out my kitchen window and saw her. I knew I had to try to help.
I am not a particularly good person. I’ll get out of the way of danger before I plunge into it. Today, however, I cut across their back yard and asked if I could help. She told me to ring the doorbell and go inside to see if her husband had fallen asleep but I knew his car was not in the driveway. He had driven off and left her.
I explained that his car was not in the drive. “That bastard,” she said. “I’ll kill him,” and I liked her all the more.
I offered to help her stand, but she elected to crawl across the threshold. “Oh, it’s just so nice to be out of that sun,” she said. Once in the house, I helped her to sit on a seat and got her a glass of water.
Once she had recovered, I introduced myself. I said that another neighbor told me that she played clarinet in the community band.
“And saxophone, too,” she corrected. “We play every Friday.”
I offered to bring my clarinet over to her house someday so that we could play a duet. She sat up straight.
“You play?” she asked.
“Not as well as you, I think. I’m just getting back into it,” I told her, liking her more and more.
She assured me she was fine sitting on her bench and thanked me for my help.
I cut back through the yard, feeling not like a hero but hoping if I am ever stranded on the steps and wearing two red sweaters on a warm spring day, that someone will think to check in on me.
Pay it forward, friends. That’s all I’m saying.