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An Empty House In the Neighborhood

Times are hard right now. This fact was brought home to me with an unexpected shock, as I went walking though our safe and happy little country neighborhood, in the mountains.

Our neighbors are 'just there'. We take them for granted as if they are part of the backdrop of our lives. Everyday I drive past the house on the corner and I always feel good about the single father whose kids once played in the treehouse out back. Yesterday I noticed that it was completely empty. How could a place with so much life be cleared out without a word of warning? No dogs, no band practice at night, no cars with teenagers coming and going, anymore. I felt a sense of loss, and bewilderment, to suddenly know that I knew so little about them.

The landlord drove up and told me that the place was for rent. He'd evicted the family after they'd lived there for 10 years. Times are hard right now. The guy who lived there was always friendly. He did odd jobs and hadn't had enough work to pay rent that month. Now he's gone to the big city where jobs might be easier to find. His kids are all scattered staying temporarily in different places. A family broken and displaced. How could this happen and no one even knew? I need help with a huge yard project. If only I could turn back time and go ask him to take the job. If only he'd told some of us that he needed work.

That evening I walked over to look inside the rental house. It felt like I was peering into the very life of the family who had moved. Drawings on the bedroom wall, by the kids. A yard tended with love over time (he was always making some new improvement out back). They often had parties and visitors. It was teeming with life. The empty rooms still seemed to cry out for their occupants, bereft of the furnishings, CD players, tools and toys. Naked in the sudden emptiness.

The lights were not on as they usually were, in the pre-dusk of a fall evening. Dark silence brooded in the tiny kitchen. Why had we not gotten to know each other in all those years? Our dogs would always bark at each other. They had 2 very spirited canines--neighborhood sentries. Each day the boys would walk the dogs past our house and take them up to the greenbelt. We would wave at each other. Now I know it wasn't enough. I walked over to the side yard where there was a little lean-to with a double-canvas flap that was pulled open. Peeking inside, I saw something that broke my heart. There had been little sign of life around the place--they had taken everything with them. But here, inside this sturdy little shelter were 2 little dog houses, each one had its well-used blanket inside the opening of the little cozy compartments. Side by side they sat there, still filled with the scent of their recent occupants and who knows where the dogs had been sent... It made me feel so, so sad. They were waiting here but the dogs would never be coming back.

Times are hard right now. One family's security, familiarity, and personal history has been shattered. I feel helpless, grateful for what I have, and utterly broken-hearted. Suddenly I feel a loneliness that I never felt before in the neighborhood.

swanfether swanfether 61-65, F 80 Responses Oct 14, 2008

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yeah I know what you mean. My family was the family that left the empty house standing in the quiet suburban neighborhood. Still rips me up, leaving my family and friends because I had to go where I could keep a roof over their heads. Sad. so sad, still.

Hi Bowlman, There is always more to the story, isn't there?! And the 'information' one gets about details, reasons, circumstance, etc. is never the whole story. The innermost reasons often are the one's we never know about. Thanks for weighing in!

I am going to say that I agree with Bannana on a few points.<br />
<br />
For starters, the man should have BOUGHT a house if he was planning on staying a long period of time. For one, rent goes up. Mortgages do not. Mortgage is tax deductible, rent is not.<br />
<br />
On another front, I have been a landlord. It is not an easy job. With that said, I would PROBABLY give the guy a break if he had paid his rent on time for 10 years. It is easier to deal with the devil you know vs. the one which you do not know.<br />
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With that said, I feel that there is MORE to this story.

Hi swan.<br />
Pain can tears us open, it's a opening...isn't it? :)<br />
Yes it is hard to feel, but how else can we heal...

Hi Jerkina, its always good to see you again. Very wise and simple wisdom. Thanks. "Feeling it" can be the hardest part. Pain can tear us open but then we are vulnerable to whatever the situation might need from us (or have to 'give' to us)...

Seeing is believing, living it is knowing...<br />
Just look a little deeper, and try to feel it...

Satire, I do remember the song. I'm sorry your neighbor of 12 years moved away. It is hard to have a friend leave, but even harder when the empty house stares back as a reminder. May new voices and faces bring a new era full of great surprise, eventually...<br />
<br />
Bananna, On behalf of the kumbaya group, your 'shot of reality' has been heard and acknowledged! You are indeed very fortunate at this time to have a good situation. So am I. And I'm learning that its impossible to ever know the true reasons that people make the decisions they make. Its always easier to draw conclusions from a distance but turns out they are seldom what they appear...<br />
<br />
I appreciate both of these comments, thanks.

Very touching but as always I have to look at the whole picture. This single faher RENTED this place for 10 years? Why didn't he save up money and buy a little place? Or just save up for rainy days like these!! In 10 years he could've got a better job, a degree...<br />
You know? I guess I'm blessed to have a job and a husband that works hard, but I just don't see why people are complaining about the financial situation, just go to the mall or to costco and walmart and you'll see what I mean. People are still buying all kinds of unnecessary stuff! They can't make the mortgage payment but littleJohnny got a new Wii. <br />
The housing situation only affected those who bought a house they couldn't buy in the first place, Big Bank told them they "qualified" for a $500K variable loan so they bought their dream house instead of going for something modest....<br />
I'm just ranting here, all I wanted was to give a little shot of reality to these cumbaya group.<br />
<br />
You're welcome.

I know how you feel!<br />
I had a neighbour move out today!<br />
Do you know the old song "LIVING Next Door To Alice?"<br />
We had been bneighbours for 12 years! <br />
<br />
I looked at the house tonight....IT was EMPTY!<br />
My heart was empty too!<br />
I Shall miss them!!

hi there road,<br />
<br />
I agree with you that "...Its a pity it takes tough times for the glare to dim sufficiently that we might see properly."<br />
<br />
And yet I think your grandmother is right "...hard times are also good times..." and like you say, if we no longer have 'containers' for gathering during hard times, for reaching out, then how can we share them together? <br />
<br />
The world is careening toward BIG TIME, HARD TIMES. Wonder if it's trying to tell us all something? Thanks for your insightful thoughts. And I encourage you to ignore the PC consciousness. Without being 'in your face' about it, that's what I do. I find that when I tactfully approach others in a warm and caring way (simply showing interest in something they say or do, for eg) that it means so very much to them. We all just want to exist. To be acknowledged, perhaps understood, but at least seen. Its a powerful gesture to simply notice someone and let them know that they were appreciated in some small way.<br />
<br />
hope that "nowhere" is a very interesting place when you arrive!!!

I read swanfeathers story and would like to comment. <br />
<br />
From the earliest stories I can remember my grandmother telling me, hard times were also good times. I recall her treasured memories of solid friendships born of shared times and the need to co-operate. <br />
We are so damn independent these days. <br />
I hope society will re-learn some of the ways of my grandparents generation and get back to socialising with our neighbors. <br />
Saturday night dances sound so corny now, but hell I bet they had a lot of fun. This modern life seems short on fun (unless you have money that is). <br />
Am I alone in thinking that we have so many aquaintances rather than trustworthy friends? <br />
This modern lifestyle has gone so far away from the old extended family and their combined sets of friends, that we are now fending for ourselves for meaningful contact with others.<br />
Many people are isolated due to modern work demands and don't get to meet new people for long. I know in one town i heard someone say that the town was attracting so many "itinerant' workers, that she had to be careful how close she got to new comers, for fear of losing that new friend.<br />
<br />
The other thing I would like to say is that it has been my experience that everyone has an interesting story to tell about their lives. The most unlikely people have the most incredible stories to tell, and yet we only get to hear them in their eulogies. How sad is that?<br />
<br />
Yes I understand exactly how you felt this day. Not knowing this family is not your fault, it is the way our society is. We are so hooked up on PC and privacy now, we are trained not to ask. I tried to get a mutual friends phone number the other day and was told that my friend would be told of my enquiry and would duly contact me! OK; perhaps I was taking a liberty in the eyes of the pc concious. I felt dirty for asking. <br />
<br />
Life has so much to offer and yet we seem unwittingly blinded by the glare of capital and presumed need for material success.<br />
Its a pity it takes tough times for the glare to dim sufficiently that we might see properly.

LOL.. I KNEW I should have bought that hat! When I find one again I think I will treat myself.. and get one for you too! Then we'll be ready for adventure.. I think we *should* start a club! We need a cool name. Something like 'The Edge Trippers' or... any suggestions?

Dee, I love the comments you are making here. Your description of the territory" is so perfect. (and hey! I wish you would have bought at least 2 of those INDY hats! We need to start a club and maybe get merit badges for adventures!!)<br />
<br />
You described your sense of uncertainty this way, "...On the one hand, feeling like maybe I wasn't doing 'enough', somehow, on the other hand, trying to recognize what this was, making me feel this way..." I think you are zeroing in on the heart of what happens here for me. Its that sort of 'suspended' way you capture here, that does not simply continue to take our thoughts (as they arise) at face value.<br />
<br />
Its like that great bumper sticker: DON'T BELIEVE EVERYTHING YOU THINK!<br />
<br />
I think it takes courage, a strong inner focus, and determination, to hold that 'pause'. To HEAR the subtle whisper of doubt, resistance, or yearning. To 'catch' the flicker of discomfort in the gut or a droop in the shoulders, to catch it and pay attention. To recognize the redundant thoughts that rush in to derail us from the still space of deep presence. This is being mindful. <br />
<br />
By doing this, we cut through to something deep inside, something that REALLY wants to get our attention (and each time we do it, this make it easier to do it again next time). But our deepest feelings, impressions, sensations and thoughts are not used to having much air time. They have gotten used to hiding in the dark and being ignored or drowned out. So, in a way we need to be patient and gentle with them at first. I think that the "PAUSE" is a way to do this. Like a wild animal that you don't want to scare away, so you just wait with out moving, speaking or disrupting the stillness.<br />
<br />
(its also the closest thing we can find to the core essence of our TRUE being, but that's another topic.)<br />
<br />
Like you say, Dee, it takes practice. There's no 'right or wrong' way to 'do it'. And also, like you say, "...if I pause a little while longer, and am able to stay with Awareness, then that deeper mechanism seems able to come forth, the Intuition of our deeper awareness."<br />
<br />
In my experience this is just what happens. And sometimes it may not happen right away. It may be that the silent pause itself IS the gift. And that IT has its own way of opening us up, of nurturing or healing us. <br />
<br />
But if we don't take the chance of smashing into trees we will never learn how to ride the bike, eh?<br />
<br />
Waaaaahh! I want my Indy hat!!

LOL.. I got stuck there alright! It seemed to last forever!! A response was expected, and I felt a bit like a deer caught in headlights.. I think I ended up losing my awareness 'connection' the first time it happened.<BR>The next time I did better, and stayed with it until I knew how to respond. Sometimes we just don't have a response, right away, I think.. maybe.. um.. at least that's what it seems, lol. I'm still learning! Kinda like learning to ride a bike, maybe? At first you run into trees and fences and get scraped up. Then you get the feel for it and start riding more smoothly. I dunno. I hope? Haven't gotten to that stage yet, I'm still smashing into trees! :)

ah carrot! you've got me ROFL now! <br />
<br />
however... I would say that this 'danger' is well worth flirting with! The question is what might it be like to get stuck in the pause??!!!!<br />
<br />
Only one way to find out...

Dee, You zeroed right in on the core of what I was trying to say. You write, <br />
<br />
"...when you take that pause.. it is (at least for me) a moment of unsteadiness.. of resisting to jump in with the usual mode of response, and feeling like I have to do or say SOMETHING, not quite knowing just yet what that might be or look like... But if I pause a little while longer, and am able to stay with Awareness, then that deeper mechanism seems able to come forth, the Intuition of our deeper awareness..."<br />
<br />
This is exactly what I wanted to get at. Its the pause. The pause is the very thing we seldom allow ourselves. We've been so programed to DO, FIX, ACT, THINK, KNOW, or anything but pause... It goes against all of our training. And the more comfortable I get with living out of that very pause, the more rich life becomes. <br />
<br />
There is so much more to notice for starters. Stuff that would never have even seen the light of day, is suddenly sitting there in plain view. And often for me, it arises in the form of questions. And I'm learning not to presume they arise in order to be 'answered' and therefore ended. That goes with the old-style habits of DOING, FIXING, etc. <br />
<br />
The minute we define, label or identify something, we end the conversation. The more it is allowed to hang out in spaciousness, and reveal itself TO us, the more we learn. <br />
<br />
I also find that the more at ease I become in this territory, the more lonely I feel in many ways (but thats only if I'm measuring my life by all the 'old standards'). <br />
<br />
There are crossroads all over the place. They can be internal or external. Our busy minds, lives, and agendas can make us hurry right past most of them. The more we slow down and the more we allow The Pause Factor to exist, the more crossroads we recognize. <br />
<br />
This whole thing can feel quite complicated or very, very simple. It probably sounds way more complex that it actually is! I think it only feels complex when viewed from the traditional mind-state. I'm probably going off into 'weird space' now. So I'll stop. But I really really appreciate your comments!!!

Swanfether, your initial reaction was very human, very touching, something we all connected with quite strongly. And now you give us something else to think about.. that's what I love about you, you always get me thinking! xx I picture you on the Edge, the consummate adventurer, wearing an Indy hat! lol (This must be cause I tried on this great Indy style leather hat in a shop in Vancouver.. but didn't break down and buy it, even tho it looked good, lol ;). <BR><BR>What you get at is what I was dabbling in, slightly, with this story, I think.. but you take us much further than my thoughts could get to. You say, "understandably something in us often resists opening ourselves to all the difficult things that we encounter". This is probably the main thing that was affecting me, personally, from your story. On the one hand, feeling like maybe I wasn't doing 'enough', somehow, on the other hand, trying to recognize what this was, making me feel this way.<BR><BR>You say, "I'm finding that part of what is ASKED of me, at each moment, is to inquire deeply into the current situation. I'm being challenged to show up completely with no idea what I will feel, do or even understand."<BR><BR>I think I kinda understand this.. the challenge of being Aware, of taking in what's happening at the moment, and of pausing long enough to not get 'sucked in' to a conditioned response. But when you take that pause.. it is (at least for me) a moment of unsteadiness.. of resisting to jump in with the usual mode of response, and feeling like I have to do or say SOMETHING, not quite knowing just yet what that might be or look like.<BR><BR>But if I pause a little while longer, and am able to stay with Awareness, then that deeper mechanism seems able to come forth, the Intuition of our deeper awareness.<BR><BR>I've experienced this in some challenging conversations with a significant other.<BR><BR>And this gets me thinking more about my internal response to your story.. and what may come up next time I may be faced with a similar situation as described in your story.<BR><BR>Maybe the new family next door is meant to enter your life in new and significant ways. You will miss the old neighbors, and hope that everything turns out alright in all their lives, but at the same time have a potential new adventure awaiting you with the new neighbors :)

Dear Friends,<br />
<br />
I've been thinking about all the genuine concern from everyone who has read this story, and also about what this entire experience has meant to me. I'd like to share some thoughts about this, now. <br />
<br />
When I found that my neighbors were suddenly gone it jolted me. The story I shared came directly out of the rawness of this discovery. It seems so easy in our world today to look around us and see things that might feel 'heartbreaking' if we were to fully feel the impact of how the experience hits us. And understandably something in us often resists opening ourselves to all the difficult things that we encounter. in fact there are times when this is wise--when our own plate is already overflowing with more that we feel capable of handling. <br />
<br />
At the same time, my experience continues to demonstrate that my own horizons DO expand as I remain 'available' to the full import of whatever arises before me. If I do this in an open-minded, open-hearted way, it means I must also sincerely face whatever ripples spread out from a given situation. The experience of a more vast horizon, and a more honest availability, makes me feel that I am more "present" to life itself. <br />
<br />
Does this mean that a deeper level of response should necessarily elicit an equivalent level of reaction? For me this raises many more questions. <br />
<br />
What is an 'equivalent level'? I do think we have been conditioned (each in our own way) to listen to the knee-jerk impressions that emerge. We are programed to respond automatically by our habitual understandings, our unquestioned assumptions. Sometimes these conditioned reactions ignore a lot of valuable information. Or they overlook things that ought to be questioned. <br />
<br />
For example, if something devastating has occurred, we tend to think we must 'give MORE' than if something less serious has occurred. We may not ask, 'Does our conditioned reaction serve the needs of all who are involved in the situation? Or, for example, if the person 'in need' has a history of utter irresponsiblity, do we bail them out once more? Or if we do not know the exact circumstances do we have a responsibility to find out more about the situation (to reach out to those involved perhaps) before determining what we 'ought' to do?<br />
<br />
I say this because I'm wanting to 'break through' to that place inside of us all where we have walls up to being 'fully present' with moment-to-moment occurrences in our lives. <br />
<br />
For me, gradually pushing myself to "OPEN" more deeply moment-by-moment, has not been easy. It has not only required a melting of my familiar walls, but it has asked for a 'raw availability' to what arises, without having any chance to develop new 'coping mechanisms' or 'belief systems' from which to rely upon. I find that it requires a vulnerability that is unrehearsed, and an emotional & physical readiness with no safety net, to fall back upon.<br />
<br />
If we are going to be brave enough to do this, then I'm also discovering that its equally important to realize that in the 'new territory' there are going to be 'new rules' have to be 'groked' once we get there. In fact, such 'rules' may not be rules exactly--in the way we've come to think of, as hard & fast ('black & white' or 'right & wrong') outlooks. Rather, I'm finding that 'in the new territory' I'm face-to-face with individual situations, each with its own specific merit and meaning. I'm finding that part of what is ASKED of me, at each moment, is to inquire deeply into the current situation. I'm being challenged to show up completely with no idea what I will feel, do or even understand.<br />
<br />
This EDGE is an unfamiliar meeting place, where the UNKNOWN becomes a strange and marvelous gift. My experience is showing me that none of the old conventional wisdom can be relied upon at this frontier. And yet there is something much more significant and promising that does await us here. It goes by an old name: INTUITION. And yet it does not spring from the 'old place' where we have tended to look for hunches about what to do, think, feel, etc. It springs, instead, from the very place inside this new territory which calls to us to risk leaving behind everything we've ever known, relied upon, 'been', or done. In a way we are being asked to leave behind our very identities. Being willing to stand naked, raw, empty and eager to really embrace whatever this new territory is placing before us.<br />
<br />
I think the best way to describe what I'm learning from this adventure is this:<br />
<br />
In this new territory each 'gift' that is presented to us (in the form of our 'life experience') arrives with its own answer packaged into it. We do not need to be 'ready' for it or have a plan, an agenda, or an arsonel of defense to draw upon. We don't need a 'belief system', a 'philosophy', or a formula that we can rely upon. In fact, the deeply ingrained tendency for our minds to reach back for any of these tools is our natural reaction. And yet, it is precisely what we asked to respectfully move past doing. <br />
<br />
If you are still on board at this point, you must already have an inner resonance with this perspective, born of your own experience. Otherwise, probably this all sounds like double-talk! <br />
<br />
To bring this back to the empty house in my neighborhood (and at this point it still remains empty, awaiting new inhabitants and a new energy dynamic in our neighborhood), I'd like to say that I have been immeasurably changed and deeply enriched by the comments each and everyone of you have made. And I'm eager to start off in a friendly way by welcoming the new family to our neighborhood. <br />
<br />
Thanks to everyone for caring and I wish you all well in your homes all over this great planet!

Bebacapitanperez, Thank you so much for your thoughtful response. You remind us how important it can be to reach out, at least once--just to let our neighbors know who we are, that we care and are THERE. Whenever others have done this for me, I have never forgotten it. We don't have to be close friends, or have regular contact. Just enough of an acknowledgment and friendly manner to establish a bridge. Once a bridge exists (and if it is maintained enough to keep it in good shape) then it can be used for crossing when needed. I appreciate your words.<br />
<br />
I did let Whatsogirl know that her generous offer is probably not necessary in this case. I am sure that there are others much more in need. I do feel that there is enough of a support system available to these neighbors, after getting in touch with others who know them. <br />
<br />
Dee, my dear friend, I always appreciate your appreciation, support, and encouragement. Thank you!!

It's very sad story, but we can make the difference in our neighboorhood! for example: When we bought this house like 4 years ago, since the first moment we saw our neigboors we said Hello and nice to meeting you,even from our house.Then because Christmas came that month I decided to bring some nice breakfast at two very older ladys who's were living alone, I aproched their house across mine house, I call the bell and when they saw me I explained them I wanted to share some Christmas breakfast with them, and I spend a few dollars buying a nice,sheap useful Christmas gift.'<br />
You can't imagen that picture when I came in to their home, it was so lonely even the two sisters live there.<br />
Then I set nice the table and I stayed there until they finished the breakfast. In that momente they told me<br />
they don't have any family, one had 88 the other lady<br />
90. They demostrated me how happy they enjoyed my presence in their home, specialy because Christmas time. Other neighboor is my son friend mother and we share how to take our kids to high school, so she took her son and my son in the morning, and she pick up them in the afternoon. From time to time she send to me some special dinner she has cooked in order I taste, so I make the same other day. So is very nice to meer our neighboors we never now but in case any emergency we can count with some body,pluss is very sweet and nice to be gently and give a good morning at our neighboors or any other person you find around your area. Some times the people don't say Hello because the lock of culture,lock of human sensibility,or could be vanity, or simply they are not sweet persons<br />
who's love to be nice with the people. If you feel happy with your life,no matter what, you will feel happy to transmit your happines to everybody.Have a great weekend my friends!

FAMILY NEWS UPDATE: I did talk to someone who knows the family well. I have some information to share with everyone here. I know everyone is concerned and wants to know how they are. So I'm going to fill you in on what I have heard.<br />
<br />
First, I want to thank each one of you, for your amazing comments. I responded to many of you here, but not all of you because time was limited. But I have just reread every single comment and my heart is overflowing right now. I do want to personally acknowledge those of you to whom I DID NOT have a chance to reply already: <br />
<br />
TO: Ladee54 (for your ever-present warmth and caring), LadyWithAView (for your insight, empathy and faith), Myonis108 (for your wisdom and appreciation), Jend1979 (for your responsive receptivity), Tasmin (for enlarging our horizons and showing us the range of hardship everywhere), Nanseltar (for your clear seeing and practical ideas for community building), (MakingPeace (for your compassion, awareness & support), Carrot (for making me cry, painting the picture, and taking immediate action), D10 (for your perceptive call to action), Marji (for your justified outrage and concern for the animals), and Whatsongirl (for your beautiful offer of actual assistance to this family). Thanks to every one of you. The UNIVERSE notices and remembers.<br />
<br />
I wish I had a full report with specific details to share with you. Unfortunately what I know is all 'second-hand' and leaves much to the imagination. But since you have all 'invested' your heartminds in this story, I think you ought to be updated--even if what I have to share is not necessarily the 'ending' that everyone might have liked to hear. <br />
<br />
I just happened to run into a friend of the single father. She was able to tell me that he was 'ready' to have a break from the hardship and responsibility of having tried to do his best raising his kids and making ends meet. Apparently, when this situation developed, he decided to see it as an opportunity to do two things at once: move to a big city where he would be able to find work, make some money, AND "have a break from parenting so he could take some time for himself at last". Those were her words.<br />
<br />
I am not sure exactly where each of the children , I was told that they do have options and that they are all safe, and having their basic needs met, right now. This woman also is willing to take them in and has extended the invitation, but has not heard back from anyone.<br />
<br />
So, it seems that their unexpected developments have resulted in various actions, decisions and unfoldings. We still do not know what is actually occurring in any of their personal lives, on an emotional level. We do not know to what extent the separation of the family is temporary or not. And we do not know what their plans are or how they may be staying in touch. <br />
<br />
It might seem easy to judge the situation in various ways. I am leaving out some details which I consider to be too personal. I know I've had to wrestle with some of my own feelings and to remind myself that I can never know what another being is going through or presume to understand what life is like for them. Nor can I judge or second guess their decisions and actions. I can certainly see it differently. I could say that I might do it differently, if it were me in the situation. And perhaps that would be true. But we never know for sure what any of us would do, UNTIL we are in the actual situation ourselves. <br />
<br />
So, I'm sure with each one of us here at E.P. being unique and diverse beings, that we will all have our own individual reactions, thoughts and wishes about the situation. For me, I guess this 'update' to the story of the EMPTY HOUSE brings a sober reality check. <br />
<br />
As many folks here have hinted, hard times lie ahead. I take this as a strong reminder that we are all going to have to join together more and more. We are going to have to face things (as some of your personal stories show already) things that turn our routine world upside down. The fact is that we are do not live in a bubble. We all breathe the same oxygen and have the same basic yearnings and fears. So its a reminder that the more we reach out and notice and care...the more we take that extended hand with appreciation or at least acknowledge the good intentions of those who try to reach out... the more goodwill and well-being we will engender. <br />
<br />
The simple version of all that is: gratitude, open-hearted, open-minded, receptivity to lifes ups & downs! May you all find peace and well-being in your life journey...<br />
<br />
Swan

Wow.. I'm very touched by all of the stories being shared here. Swanfether.. you really should consider sending this story to a magazine or newspaper or something.. it really, really is such a touching, human interest story. I know I was deeply touched and affected by it, and obviously many others are too, from all over the globe! You capture so well issues of compassion, love for our fellow man, the importance of community etc.. it is a wonderful piece of writing, straight from your heart. I think it deserves to be shared beyond us here at EP! :)

Your compassion shows through - If you can get a forwarding address we will send something of help from New Zealand - I am whatson_girl@yahoo.co.nz<br />
<br />
Mostly I work with Tibetan refugee groups in Asia however today this came up and therefore must be meant to be thankyou for your sharing.

snmbs,<br />
<br />
Thank you for sharing that article. The details are both difficult to read, and important to know. You ask some powerful questions. I want to respond to your inquiry. You write,<br />
<br />
"...When things were going so well just a few years ago, did people stop and think what was happening to the countries that U.S had gone and bombed - like Iraq?"<br />
<br />
I can't speak for 'people'. However, I can say that I do know a large number of individuals (here in the U.S. where I live) who were definitely thinking about what was occurring in people's lives. Yes. <br />
<br />
I know others, whose work was dedicated toward trying to reach into the heartminds of those leaders who were making uninformed decisions. I can tell you that I feel very sad about what has occurred. It will never be anything but tragic when human fear and warfare ends up destroying countries and devistating the lives of ordinary citizens. <br />
<br />
I will also say that in the history of humankind, war has always existed. Innocent people have always been caught in the crossfire between ambitions leaders. In my opinion, it's one of the facts that MUST change if we are to survive as a species.<br />
<br />
I imagine that your life experience has given you a perspective which many of us will never understand. It is impossible for any one of us to fully grasp what another individual has been through. But it is always possible for us to care about one another. I am determined to do my part to keep my heart open. That is the only thing over which I have any realistic control. <br />
<br />
May you find fertile ground for all the insight and concern in your heart.

Truly a very touching story. I know the feeling since I have gone thru this when I was a growing teenager - evicted out of the house for my dad not being able to afford the rent. <br />
<br />
The downturn in economy has hurt the average Joe. When things were going so well just a few years ago, did people stop and think what was happening to the countries that U.S had gone and bombed - like Iraq? <br />
<br />
here is a touching story -<br />
<br />
http://edition.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/meast/03/12/iraq.women/<br />
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I cannot imagine a society where it doesn't care for it's own neighbors to even have the perspective or the vision to think of what their country has been responsible for. Bombing and killing innocent people on the pretext that Saddam was hiding weapons of mass destruction ! Well, it did good to the U.S economy then I guess, the average Joe was able to pay his mortgage! <br />
<br />
I am sorry I am not trying to make a political statement here. I have lived in about a dozen different countries around the world including the U.S.

Hello Kruzerdays, (love your screenname btw!). Thanks for the reminder about block parties. When I was young and the neighborhoods were filled with other youth, we had blockparties all the time. Its something I'd forgotten about. A great idea as a way for us to all 'meet and greet'. Closet thing we had was a neighborhood garage sell and I missed that cause I had to work that weekend. I have always admired many things about your country and its citizens. Your post only deepens my fantasy that people in Australia really know how to DO life! <br />
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Ozcan, I am afraid I agree with you about what lies on the horizen ahead for our planet, AND at the same time, I harbor a hope that (as happens so often during natural disasters) we will all pull together, maybe go back to the small community 'trade & barter' ideal of living... time will tell. <br />
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I heard someone say yesterday "I can't imagine that our young people aren't much more angry with us---they certainly have a right to be. I have always felt this way. It seems so reckless the way my generation and others before me, have lacked foresight. But that's a tangential topic, isn't it?<br />
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Watergirl07, How great to be hearing from you in Mexico where neighbors help neighbors. Perhaps the great industrial advances have left behind the people they were designed to help. I long for everyone to know a more simple way of being where we gather outdoors, as children play, elders share their wisdom and multiculltural, multigenerational gifts are all welcome and valued. I will NOT stop holding onto this dream...<br />
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Lightnow, Your words are a great way to sum up where we've 'gone wrong' and what we can do to turn it around: <br />
<br />
"...Perhaps it is time to take our lives back from those who believe in fear... You will never regret being too kind."<br />
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I couldn't agree more. Thanks for the wisdom and insight...

Sadly, I feel that we're about to enter a long era in which these sentiments become commonplace... the norm... the usual. Abandonment of ethical behavior by banks and major corporations means that short term gain results in _long_ term pain. This is just the beginning. A well of empathy will be needed to invoke in us all a spirit of care and kindness beyond anything in our experience so far. Paul, Australia

We, as a population, have been taught to fear. Media have pushed fear into our lives, to the point that suspicions cloud our sight.<br />
Perhaps it is time to take our lives back from those who believe in fear. Stupid urban myths strain emails every day, you know?!<br />
You will never regret being too kind. Try it!

Thanks for expressing what you saw beyond that empty house in a very beautiful way. <br />
Really touched my heart. Here in Mexico and in most part of latinamerica, things are really different. <br />
We know our neighbors very well, their sons and grandsons. Neighborhoods here are still communities, where you know is always gonna be a helping hand.<br />
It is a blessing to have good neighbors, but it is also important to be a good one.<br />
Thanks for giving us a reminder that good deeds should start with our closest ones.

Hello im from Australia and can see the real sadness in this experience. We people in Australia get to know one another quite well and often . I know nearly everyone in my street and did at my last address and the one before that. Now and again there will be a street party were everyone just gets out into the street and parties on with thier neighbours. Do you have anything like this over there?? Maybe give it a go as its a great way to get to know one another without intruding in your home!!!

Thank you so much to both of you for your stories...<br />
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SavingMisty, Your words make me realize how much I do have and indeed--not to take it for granted. None of us can know what might change around the next corner.<br />
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Junque, You are so right, there are always people who have it worse than we do. It seems that you find a way to be grateful and to see the silver lining in whatever life brings. That's a great quality to have. I appreciate the way you encourage others who may be overwhelmed. It can be helpful to know that hard times can turn around and we can come out stronger. What strikes me most--as a thread running through all of your stories, here--is the sense of leaning toward the best that has happened, rather than lamenting the worse that has happened. You seem to be very much a "glass half full' sort of person. I imagine people around you are uplifted by your outlook.<br />
<br />
I am really touched by the way so many people are sharing the ways they have been personally affected, here in this conversation. It seems we are all bonded by our common humanity. There is something comforting in that...

Swan -<br />
The way you put your thoughts into words and brought emotion to so many of us that were not there with you is amazing. You need to share that with your local paper, readers digest or some sort of human interest paper/magazine. It's beautiful.<br />
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I don't have much to contribute, but I would like to say this. My mother says something that in my youth would cause eyes to roll and deep sighs of "ohhhh mom". Not so much now. Not after the hellish three years I've had. Those words mom said so many times have gotten me through so many things that would break anyone emotionally or mentally and those words were...<br />
<br />
No matter how bad you have it, no matter how awful your situation. Somewhere, someone has it worse.<br />
<br />
So in 2004 when my nightmare cycle of doom began I remembered those words and those words pulled me through, gave me the spirit and faith I needed to pull through.<br />
An illness that almost claimed my life. As I was getting blood transfusions and Iron infusions, the guy next to me was getting chemo. He had it worse.<br />
Three hurricanes that year slammed us head on just weeks after we purchased our home. We lost the screen over our pool, our neighbors lost the roof. They had it worse.<br />
My father, diagnosed with cancer dies 1 month later, breaking my mothers heart (52 years wed) and leaving us all with great sadness. We had a month to prepare our goodbyes and let him know how important he was to us, and in turn he said goodybye to each of us. A friend of mine lost her father suddenly to a heart attack when she was 15, right after she told him she hated him. She had it worse.<br />
2005 - My 20 year marraige comes to an end. Life as I know it is changing. The divorce is amicable, we're actually better friends then a couple. A guy I work with, his wife dies the day before their 21st anniversary. He had it worse.<br />
I start dating someone from high school, 8 months later he has robbed me blind, stolen my identity and ruined me financially. I dust myself off and move on, finding someone eventually that makes me feel so worthy even tho I'm penniless. I don't know anyone with a worse story, but I've heard of them - tune into Forensic Files and you'll see... they had it worse.<br />
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There is a lot more, a hole lot more but I think you get the idea.<br />
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Please, just take a moment to realize that life will go on, and you need to stay around so you can see what wonderful things will happen for you if you just wait it out.<br />
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In February, my brand new husband and I along with my teens moved 2 states away so I could accept a fantastic job with a big ole company making a respectable salary with an impressive title. In April, I fell down the stairs, breaking my hip in the process. In June I'm fired for bogus reasons. I'm denied unemployment and I had already closed my workers comp case to save my job. So I was lost. We had no way back 'home' we are trapped in a new city and I'm still suffering from that broken hip. But guess what? Even though I was at my lowest, wondering how to pay rent, not having anyone else to borrow or beg from and losing a car to reposession, I somehow pulled through. Even though there were many times I didn't want to try any more. And now, things are turning around. I won my appeal and was just awarded back pay for the last 3 months, I have an attorney fighting to get my workers comp thing straight and me back in physical therapy, hubby starts a brand new dream job on Monday (8 months after working a crap job) and life is starting to look up again.<br />
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Please if you are reading this, and full of dispare - hang in there.<br />
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I'm sorry, I didn't mean for htis to be so very long and I don't want any sympathy or empathy - I just felt for some weird reason a strong desire to put this down. I hope it reaches whoever it was intended to reach.

wow...swanfether...this is very touching. Unfortunately it is a reality for so many Americans right now. <br><br><br />
<br><br><br />
I can say it's closely related to my experience...I was just evicted from my rental two weeks ago for the same reason. I, also had considered spreading my family apart in different places but I knew the distance would only divide us. But I trusted GOD and my faith grew even stronger when I found an apartment manager who was compassionate for me and my family and I now have a better deal with less rest. My family can stay living together now. I could not afford rent at the last apartment due to taking a "pay cut" at a different job and my hubby losing his job altogether. It can happen to anyone. Do not take your life and current situation for granted.<br><br />
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It is tough right now.....but I am tougher because I trust GOD and what he has planned for me.<br><br><br />
<br><br><br />
I wonder if my neighbors even noticed that I moved? This IS sad..... You are a very gentle person. Thank you for sharing this...

Sisko, It sounds like you have a very wise and thoughful mother. I am sorry that you have to be separated from your family. It is clear that you tune into your strength to deal with the hardship. I feel encouraged by your tremendous example when you say, "...we have to keep the courage and never give up hope." I think you are exactly right. May you always find the strength you need. I am sure that your loved ones are helped by your outlook.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful tribute, buttercupdaisy. It is clear how much you appreciate this friend. And isn't that what we all would want...to know that we left good feelings behind in the hearts of those we cared about...<br />
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I love your reminder about how important it is to appreciate each other.

I had a neighbor who had cancer, She did not tell anyone. <br />
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One night she saved my life and then she passed away.<br />
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She was so generous, and thoughtful. I loved my neighbor.<br />
It is going to be halloween and it was a favorite day for her. <br />
It just won't be the same, without the witch next door.<br />
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I felt the sadness of her loss by the story you told here. <br />
I miss my neighbor a lot.<br />
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A toast to our neighbors, "May we appreciate what they add to our lives everyday, wether we know them or not"

Oh Sidira, I am really sorry to hear about the uncertainty on your horizen. I can really empathize about the animals. It seems so hard sometimes to find alternatives. I wish there were a huge "e-bay of human interest issues", with chapters in each local area. <br />
<br />
Where I live, we have a network of local spiritual and meditation groups who have all combined with one newsletter to send out information to everyone on the list. Its got a number of 'areas'. So that in addition to announcements and schedule information, there is a "classified" section. This is my favorite because folks put just about anything there, from looking for rentals/offering rentals, to animals in need of homes, to people seeking to share their skills for income or barter, to items that someone might want to get rid of or something someone is searching for. Even things like wanting to start community groups for dancing, hiking, discussion, whatever...<br />
<br />
I wonder if there might be some sort of local source of connection like this in your area? Or even if you just put the word out in the neighborhood (like I wish MY neighbor had done!) that you are seeking work opportunities...and you might be in the market to downsize your living situation, if they know of anything. <br />
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It sounds so difficult to even think of sharing such information with others in one's neighborhood or workplace...but everytime someone I know has done this, it has made a huge difference. <br />
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I'll give you one specific example that happened with one of my friends. Their family of 5 lost their income (he was a computer programer and could not find work at all). So they had no way to pay their rent. My friend told a few of us about how scared she was (and they had LOTS of animals!). Another friend decided to call everyone whom this family knew. She asked them to make a list of all their friends and relatives. Then she called each one of them and gave them a little briefing on the situation. <br />
<br />
Together we all collected enough rent money to give them another month to live there. During that time the mom (who had been an 'at home' mom doing homeschhool stuff with her kids) found a job in a city/county office. <br />
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Their whole lifestyle changed but they were able to stay afloat and things worked out for them.<br />
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If I'd known about this family down the street from me, I would have tried to seek some 'creative community' options rather than lose them as neighbors. We never know until we get up the nerve and ASK, how helpful and how caring others might be. And most of the time people are honored to be asked, and eager to make a difference. Maybe their animals could have stayed in our yard for awhile... Maybe a number of us might have needed work done in our homes or yards... Someone might have known about a good caretaking opportunity or other unexpected possibility...<br />
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I really hope that something comes through for you, Sidira. <br />
<br />
And you are so right about help coming in internal ways, as well as externally. When I returned to work (after taking a month off following an unexpected split-up with my husband) a number of years ago, I pondered on what to tell my coworkers. i didn't want to be the 'talk of the workplace' when I returned and I also didn't want to pretend that nothing had happened. So, on my first day back, I just walked around and told everyone that there was one thing they could all do that would be a really big help to me. <br />
<br />
They seemed relieved and grateful to be given something specific to do. I said that the hardest thing was going to be NOT GETTING that phone call from home, which usually came at a certain time every day. I'd asked them if they would be willing to distract me, or in some playfully warm way, help me put my attention elsewhere around 2:30 pm every day. What happened is that I developed a closeness to my coworkers that I never expected. And instead of focusing on 'what went wrong' in my life, we all focused on moving forward in our group energy together.<br />
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I will hold your plight in my heart and ask for all good things to happen for your family. Thank you so much for letting us know about your worries. May it all work out well for you.

i exactly know how it feels to feel pain, really times are very hard, but we have to keep the courage and never give up hope. i know how it looks like for family to be separate from each other. it very sad but it`s life. this simple father has to be very strong to be able to reunite with his children. i cried when i read it, it just like my life i am living right now. my mother told me that i SHOULD ALWAYS KEEP ON HOPING FOR BETTER DAYS, THIS IS WHAT I DO, MAYBE YOU CAN DO THE SAME. NOWADAYS PEOPLE DO NOT HELP EACH OTHER, THEY JUST THINK ABOUT MONEY.

Wow -- amazing story. I actually have tears running down my cheek as I read this. The saddest part for me is that I may be in this position soon... My husband lost his job a couple of weeks ago and is having trouble finding anything else. His commissions had been dwindling for quite some time and we've already gone through most of what we had in savings. I really hope something comes through soon because if not we're going to lose our house too. I don't know what I'll do if I have to give up all of my animals -- they're the only thing that keeps me going some days. Believe me, reaching out to your neighbors right now is the most important thing anyone can do. I really hope everyone who reads this acts on what they are saying and does whatever they can to help others. I've done that so many times, but now there seems to be noone to help when I need it because everyone's in the same boat. For those that pray, remember also to pray for your neighbors, your neighborhood. Even if you don't have a dime to spare to help someone out, you can still offer them a prayer, a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on.

Dee writes, <br />
<br />
"...We do have to find a balance, where this is concerned.. we can't personally take on everyone else's problems that we encounter... This could mean something more substantial, like what you are suggesting here SF, or it could mean something very simple, like giving away a smile to someone who looks like they need it. But I see the overall message here as we need to be aware.. it's too easy to shut out the world around us." <br />
<br />
Yes, I completely agree. There is no general 'right' answer about what ought to be done when we are touched by the plight of another. Sometimes just the caring we feel IS our gift (and sending forth our true good wishes--the energy of caring and well-being) can be the best gift to give. In fact without having all the information we don't necessarily even know what the best thing to do might be. So, the heart of this experience for me is exactly what you say, "it's too easy to shut out the world around us." <br />
<br />
And yet, sometimes the person who needs our attention the most is our own self. Its important to be realistic about where our own energy level is--there are times when all we can do is try to stay nourished and tend to our own well-being.<br />
<br />
Gotta be careful about thinking we have to choose between 'them' or 'me'. Gotta check in with ourselves and be realistic about what we are capable of at any given moment. Perhaps, its even possible (at times) for a sad story to elicit a super strong reaction BECAUSE it triggers something inside of us...some unmet need or some vulnerability that was hidden beneath the surface. <br />
<br />
So starting with *this* piece of the world right here at E.P., I would like to express my agreement with the suggestion that we can all be friends! We can be 'here' for each other and that is a valuable thing...

Ladee, you have some very wise words of your own :)<br />
<br />
Marji.. I was kinda thinking the same thing.. too bad the landlord couldn't give the guy longer to meet his rent. But the landlord pbly has a mortgage to pay, a family of his own to feed.. we don't really know.

Sister ladee friend, I love the word ginormous.. yes, you are right, little things all add up to something big. I would be happy to call everyone here my friend :) And most of you already are :) :) I feel blessed, just being here :)

I have to admit, I went to bed last night thinking about this story, and felt the weight of responsibility on my shoulders. This was me doing this to my myself. We do have to find a balance, where this is concerned.. we can't personally take on everyone else's problems that we encounter. But sometimes we do come across a situation like this, that calls to us, speaks to our heart, and we know we can do something to help, we want to help. And we can reach out and touch one person, as ladee says. This could mean something more substantial, like what you are suggesting here SF, or it could mean something very simple, like giving away a smile to someone who looks like they need it. But I see the overall message here as we need to be aware.. it's too easy to shut out the world around us. It can be overwhelming, and so we have a need to do this to a certain degree. But if the moment brings us a gift such as this, and pulls us to try and help, I think we should listen and follow up as best we can for our place in time. We might not be able to do much.. and the most difficult part could be accepting this.. but at least we will have tried. And learned something in the process.

I wonder, is there something church congregations could do about this, or is there an organization that already exists or should exist now, to help out families in our communities? Especially with all these foreclosures happening, at least in the USA. Of course, individually we should try to reach out to our neighbors but sometimes you just can't help people, their need is big. That's where groups can be more helpful, everyone pitching in together.

What a very sobering, yet touching story of love and caring.. I'm really blown away. You are so right.. we miss these opportunities everyday to connect with people around us. What ever happened to that small town feeling and sense of community? I know my neighbors only to smile and wave at, and know little if nothing about their situations. It is very sad, the walls we put up between one another. Your story, the compassion that you express, and all the comments here inspire me to try and change this. To reach out, when the opportunity presents itself. Or better yet, create these opportunities. It can be difficult to take this step.. but the perceived 'risk' really pales to the great potential for reward. I will look forward to hearing more of this story.. and hope that I can do the same for someone. We just never know when we will need to rely on the kindness of others.. and so we really should be keeping our eyes and hearts open to them.

Oh my goodness!<br />
<br />
I just arrived home from work to find all of your amazing responses. When I sent this out I did not know what could be done. I just felt so helpless and so cut off, that I had to write about it. As I read all of your thoughts it occurs to me that the concern you are expressing, the determination to reach out before its too late, the reminders of other times when people would bond together...this is what wants to be seen. This is what wants to be felt by our human heartminds. This caring that is being expressed IS whats needed for us to come together and pitch in. For us to be wiling to help each other out.<br />
<br />
It is the obvious response and yet, it can be so difficult to reach out...to go knock on a door and start the conversation. There is a silly program instilled inside of us, that fears 'looking like a fool' or something...<br />
<br />
WHY? Why have we become so walled off and so isolated? <br />
<br />
I feel encouraged and inspired by what each of you have said. Carrot, I almost want to cry thinking of the painting you have been working on. I KNOW how much it will mean to the human that belonged to this dog! I would love to see the painting...<br />
<br />
I sent this out because the pain of this family had taken root in my own heart. Now you all have taken it one step further. I feel a momentum gathering here...it is time to reverse the trend of self-sufficiency. To risk. To extend a hand, not knowing how it will be received. <br />
<br />
I am going to take a walk to another street in the neighborhood where the sister of this man's ex girlfriend lives. Her daughter used to play with his kids. Maybe she knows where they are and what they need. Maybe I can speak to my other neighbors and we can do something to let them know we care...<br />
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I am so grateful to everyone for taking this so seriously and for caring. Sometimes we need (I need) the echo of other hearts joining in before I can take that first, difficult step. I WILL DO IT! I'll let you all know how it goes. And you can let us know how it goes in your corner of the world. <br />
<br />
deep gratitude to all!!!!! <br />
<br />
(and to E.P. for existing so we can all touch base in the many ways our diverse needs impel us to do...)

I can't find thoughts and words to respond to this story just yet, but, just thank you swanfether, for sharing what you saw, felt and were thinking. This is a great little essay, one you might consider expanding a bit, perhaps sending to a newspaper? The way its getting all of us thinking is so important. Stories like this are unfolding all over the world now, have been happening everywhere, for a long time... people's lives falling apart, gone un-noticed...<br />
<br />
:^(

Swanfeather's tale in the country, and Tasmin's tale in of the city. Alienation exists everywhere. Neighbourhoods are no longer communities. It's so very sad that so many of us do not have a broader sense of community and involvement in the world arond us.<br />
My mother told me that during the depression, it was quite common and socially acceptable for people to invite their friends to "rent parties" or "hard times" parties, potluck and BYOB, where the goodies would be raffled off at whatever prices the guests could offer. Maybe it's time to bring them back!

That is such a sad story but how many of us truly know our neighbours?<BR><BR>There was a tv documentary called 'Our Street' on recently. It was a wealthy area in London but the mix of people that lived there was very surprising.<BR>Living amongst millionaires were people on benefits due to sickness and unemployment and elderly immigrants unable to speak English.<BR><BR>Everyone had an interesting story to tell .. but very few knew their neighbours and there were many very lonely people.<BR><BR>I vowed after the programme that I would get to know all my neighbours better .. but I have not as yet.

Sometimes it takes the sad reality of another's life to slap us upside the head hard enough to open our eyes. We get a bigger picture and it makes us appreciate the blessings in our own back yard. You show such compassion for this family and I'm sure you would have done something if you'd been aware of their situation. Many people will read your story and hopefully will go out today and do something kind for a neighbor or a co-worker.