If good fences make good neighbors, knowing when to take down that fence makes a better one, I think.
My neighbor across the street is an elderly woman recovering from cancer and battling MS. She moves very slowly and meticulously through her yard, planting her flowers, sitting on her porch. We wave across the street and have had a few longer conversations. She's watched our boys when they were younger, and my husband mows her yard.
Today, she took a very long time to make it to the door, and she was shaking. Each step was carefully placed and held before she took the next. She is very sick, and she's not sure what it is. I sat with her, brought her some of her things, cut up an apple for her and fed and let her dog out.
She and I are not especially close, but I find myself looking across the street to her quiet, blue house tonight. I have her key and will be checking on her in the morning and again after my class tomorrow afternoon. The truth is, I think she will rally from this, but I worry that if she gets too low, her children will try to put her in a home. You might say that's the best thing... but for whom? She likes puttering in her garden, she likes living on her own-- she once told me she never gets lonely, she enjoys solitude.
And I think I worry because I see myself in 40 years, wishing to be self reliant, longing to hold onto myself and my property, hoping to die as I lived.
If you think of it, pray for my friend Nancy.