In late September of 1978, President Jimmy Carter designated Good Neighbor Day as a national holiday—a chance to do something for our neighbors and in our communities. It seemed like the special day never really caught on, but I like the idea.
Years ago, a bunch of neighborhood kids would routinely come down the road and play in our woods. We’d have extra bikes and several dogs in our yard. It felt like we lived in a neighborhood.
Then the kids grew up, the trees got taller, and more gates were installed along the dirt roads of our neighborhood. Knowing our neighbors got tougher.
But not for Patricia. She has always been our neighborhood matriarch and made it her mission to know everyone. Every couple years she’d put flyers in our mailboxes inviting us for a Neighborhood Pie Party. Many of us would show up at her small home, crowd around the dessert table, and catch up like neighbors need to do more often.
We might not see each other’s homes through the trees, but we all have phones and things we can do to help one another. Patricia connected our lives in a way that made us grateful to live near one another.
Then Patricia lost her husband. He had Parkinson’s and his walks along the road got slower until they stopped altogether. While caring for him in his final years, she hadn’t hosted her Neighborhood Pie Party.
A week ago, I got a letter in the mail from Patricia. She wants to get together and see if we can figure out a way to gather the neighbors. Yes, it’s time to meet again, share our stories, and eat some good pie.
But it’s also time for the next generation to take the torch from Patricia. I think it’s my turn. And maybe that’s how I can celebrate Good Neighbor Day.