What do Barney and Betty Rubble, Kramer, Lenny and Squiggy, Fred and Ethel Mertz, and Wilson all have in common? They were all great neighbors who would help out with one call. Whether it was babysitting a child, helping someone who was sick, running an errand or just lending an ear, they were always there for their neighbors.
Yes, these are all famous television neighbors, but I bet you and I can see any number of our real-life neighbors in them. From the time I was young until now, I’ve been blessed with some fantastic neighbors — many of whom I could call on in time of need or even just to chat, and all of whom taught me important lessons.
I grew up on the farm where I’ve raised my children, and we had the best neighbors — my grandparents — right across the road from us. Grandma and Grandpa were built-in babysitters, slumber party hosts, game players, lesson teachers and activity supporters. They took care of the farm when we were gone, and Grandma kept the cookie jar full.
My grandma lived in that same house on the farm for more than 70 years, well beyond my grandpa’s death when I was just 11. That meant my kids could reach into her cookie jar, too, and they also had my own parents to help. Having a neighbor like Grandma was one of the finest things in my life, and she taught me the greatest lesson: Always stay humble and be kind.
Go another mile on down the road, and you’ll meet Bud and Ruby. Bud was one of my dad’s best friends and a reliable chore backup when we were away at cattle shows, and Ruby was one of the sweetest ladies you’ll ever meet. Bud and my dad noodled a lot of topics over the years, doling out great advice. What did I learn from Bud and Ruby? Always treat people who mean the most like they’re your family.
Moving on through life
Even living the college dorm life, I had great neighbors — like my cattle-showing friend, Kerri, who understood when I had to take off for a livestock event and kept an eye on my roommates and me. What did I learn from Kerri? Care for the folks who grew up differently or think differently from you.
My young adult life introduced me to more good neighbors. I could call Eric at midnight for help moving a newborn calf, and I could count on Ralph to feed the cats and calves when we were gone. No matter what, I knew they’d have our backs. What did I learn from Ralph and Eric? Help your neighbors, because someday you may need help, too.
Years in Indiana meant managing a thousand cows, and a 1 a.m. phone call to our babysitter, Phoebe. We had way too many cows calving and that night, we couldn’t care for both cows and kids at the same time. “No problem! You know I’m always here,” she said. And she was. Down the road, Mike and Melinda always showed up to help, and celebrated big with us.
What did I learn from those Indiana neighbors? The best friends can come into your life at any time.
Now I’m back home, with my parents across the field — definitely good neighbors. And I can count on other folks in the neighborhood to chase cattle with us on a moment’s notice, let our pets out when we are away, or check on the livestock. There aren’t enough good words for good neighbors.
While they may not zoom into a room like Kramer, look over the fence at us like Wilson, or have the goofiness of Lenny and Squiggy, my neighbors have been, and are, nothing short of amazing.
What kind of neighbor are you? Are you making an impact on those around you? Are you helping the people who help you? Would your old neighbors say you were a good neighbor?
We’re not on television, but it’s tough to imagine where any of us would be without our neighbors.
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