Library Diva's Guide to Volunteering…

{May 17, 2011}   being neighborly

You can pick your friends but you can’t pick your family and you certainly have very little, if any,  control on picking your neighbors.

When we moved from our house to our new community we moved so suddenly that we didn’t move into a house, we moved into an apartment…to get a feel for the community and where we wanted to be, and all of the overthinking that happens when you are over educated.

I hadn’t lived in an apartment in years, and the one I did live in was a restored 2nd floor apartment in a very large and very old Victorian house. This second apartment we moved in to was on the ground floor and after the first week of kids looking in our open windows and saying “Yep, they are in there…” or “look, she’s taking a nap.” We buttoned up that apartment tighter than a submarine. Windows shut, shades pulled, curtains drawn.

I’m not a big fan of apartment living but town homes I like a little more and that’s what my sister lives in, 50 glorious steps from the beach. She had just showered and heard a tapping sound. Didn’t think much of it, but then thought, maybe she better check on her 94 year old neighbor. Throwing on some shorts and a t-shirt, she headed next door, tapping lightly on the screen door and then walking in.

There she found her neighbor lying on the floor disconnected from her oxygen mask, hitting the closet door against the wall that abutted my sister’s town home in an effort to  signal for help. She immediately reconnected her oxygen and made all the necessary emergency calls.

Her neighbor had told her…”this is it…” My sister steadfastly said…”not yet…not now…not while I’m here…”

We don’t need to be Mrs. Kravitz by any means, but we do need to be aware and take care of each other. It could be the difference in life and death.


A few days after Christmas one evening, I was all set to burn up some gift cards and hit the shoppes. Mo started to bark outside a very strange bark. Deep, low, growly, first very slowly, then the low growl and the deep woof woof woof of a Newfoundland sounding the alarm.

A cat? A squirrel? Someone trekking through my backyard? I thought I better bring him in as much as he loves the cold and the snow. I stood at the back door and called him but he wouldn’t come. He just kept barking in to the night in the direction of my neighbor’s house catty corner in the back yard. Maybe their cats are in the window again…it wasn’t a cat in the window when I looked, but flames.

I immediately ran in and grabbed the house phone and called 911. Mo rushed up to me in all his 140 lb excitement and then back to his spot where he was barking.

I blurted out…”My neighbor’s house is on fire! They have cats!”

“Is anyone home?”, the 911 operator asked.

“They have weird schedules. One of them works nights and one works days and there’s a car in the drive way…they have cats!”

At this point the flames had engulfed the entire back window and the glass was starting to blow out. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing and I began to feel the heat.

It took less than 4 minutes for the firemen to arrive, but because of a frozen fire hydrant nearby, it took 40 minutes to put out the fire. The house is at a loss and will be razed, the cats died from smoke inhalation.

A few days ago, I was in the backyard with Mo when the neighbors came back to survey the scene. We met in the backyard and hugged. She started to cry. I felt horrible for them. They kept thanking me and Mo. There is no thanks. They lost their cats. They lost their house. It wasn’t enough. They kept telling me that it was. The other houses didn’t go up in flames, no one was hurt. They said it was enough. Their bedroom was burned but untouched in their nightstand was their family bible.They asked if I wanted to come inside to look. No. That’s their private pain. I’m not a curiosity seeker. They said they’d buy Mo the biggest bone they can find. He’s a big boy…it will have to be big bone!

The strange thing is that she was going to go to sleep, but her husband had asked her to go with him someplace she usually doesn’t like to go….the library…

She said, what the heck. They were on their way back when they saw the smoke and emergency vehicles and couldn’t believe it was their house. He told me they lost some books in the fire. I told him it was ok…I had connections at the library… 🙂

et cetera
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