A good neighbour is a priceless treasure. -Chinese Proverb
The past week has shown us many unexpected acts of kindness and has made us aware of the fact that we have such good neighbours. After Hubby’s accident on Valentine’s Day, our family was touched by many people extending their wishes for a speedy recovery and support in many forms.
Our first surprise was a flower deliver from our friends at TELUS.
That truly brightened up Hubby’s day. He was told that it could be at least ten weeks minimum for him to recover and be able to return to work. Ten weeks puts us to May, and for a farmer, every day not working on the farm is a day lost.
We’ve been trying to focus on recovery and getting Hubby stronger. Week one was a challenging week.
The one thing Hubby and I are really bad at is asking for and accepting help. We’re both eager to help out family, friends, and neighbours in a pinch, but have a very difficult time asking for and accepting help. I don’t know why that is.
Last week, when I was feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, and exhausted, a friend told me, “Christine, you have so many people who want to help. ACCEPT the help. You and John are always ready to help everyone else, so let everyone help you.”
One friend has been texting daily to check on Hubby and even came over to bring firewood and install a “grab bar” in the shower so that when Hubby is strong enough to sit on the edge of the tub to wash, he will have the grab bar for support so he doesn’t slip and fall.
Other acts of kindness included a friend coming over to sand our driveway. Our driveway was like a skating rink and the walk up and down our lane to get to Little One’s bus stop was a dangerous one last week. One of our neighbours cleared our lane and cleared my mother-in-law’s driveway as well.
Hubby’s brother-in-law, youngest sister, and a friend have been taking turns helping with barn chores and feeding cattle. My days have been filled with feeding the animals on this side, taking care of Hubby, taking care of Little One, doing household chores, taking Little One to her activities, and working (putting in a full day’s work doing client work). To help, the owners of Buoys Eatery came over from the other end of the Island to bring us some freezer meals. A girlfriend picked up groceries for me and her daughter came over for a play date and kept Little One busy for a few hours. Another friend’s husband drove Little One to and from Brownies, as their children attend Brownies as well.
Our biggest surprise was a visit from our Amish neighbours. They live about 4 km away from us, but our properties touch. They came over and had a visit with John, offered their help with anything we needed on the farm, and they brought homemade bread, pickled beets, soup, and handmade “Get Well Soon” cards from each of their children.
My very dear friend came over the other day and told me to go to my home office and get a few hours of client work done, because that’s what’s going to be paying the bills for the next ten weeks. She ended up cleaning my kitchen while I got some work done. I have been a weepy mess ever since! I was so emotional and thankful. While I had been taking care of my husband, making sure Little One and Hubby were taken care of, fed, clean, and all their needs were met, I had neglected the kitchen. It just wasn’t a priority for me and to be honest, I didn’t have the energy. Bedtime came early for me each day last week.
Just thinking of all of those acts of kindness that have made our lives a lot more manageable with Hubby being immobile while he recovers has been a real shock to me. Never would I have ever expected so many people to do so much for us.
Living in a rural community is so different from living in the city. I’m not saying that this doesn’t exist in the city, as I’m sure that many people in the city have neighbours who would do this for them. In my case though, growing up we really only knew our immediate neighbours and when I was in my twenties, renting an apartment, I didn’t even know my neighbours. People tended to keep to themselves and do their own thing. I remember thinking, “It would be so cool to have good neighbours like in Desperate Housewives, where they brought each other casseroles if a spouse was sick or a family member passed away.”
The farming/rural community has been so amazing and I cannot even begin to express our gratitude. The other time we experienced this kind of outpouring of kindness was when Little One ended up being flown to CHEO (Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario) because doctors didn’t know why she was having excruciating abdominal pains. My online community offered so much support — much like how our Island community has been offering support with Hubby being home from the hospital.
I’m thankful that Hubby just broke his tibia and fibula, and nothing worse. Though the accident was a bad one, it could have been far worse. I guess some of the lessons I have learned through this experience is to ACCEPT help when it is being offered. It’s okay to need help. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and feel like you are drowning when you need help and do not ask for it or accept it. If the caretaker is burnt out, then the caretaker cannot care for the patient or the family.
I also learned that experiences like this really put things into perspective. If the tree had landed on Hubby’s head or crushed his organs, or worse — if it had killed him, what would have done? What would become of the farm? Would we try to keep the farm going? Would we have to sell? It’s those things that we never really discussed except for the one time at the lawyer’s when we had to sign documents. It’s those things that NEED to be addressed, because everyone is of the mindset that “Oh, it will never happen to me, so we don’t need to talk about it.” Well, it did happen and we do need to talk about it.
Hubby has always said, “If you take care of your community, your community will take care of you.” I agree and this is something we’ve always believed. This goes the same for online and offline communities. It’s really important for me to cultivate relationships and nourish them.
Good neighbours aren’t just your immediate neighbours. Good neighbours are those in your community — online and offline.