Tag: Neighbors

Searching For a Miracle and A Dog Named Dug

With all due respect to dogs, I’m totally a cat lady. I love cats. I can’t help it, I feel connected to them. But I also have quite a soft spot for most all animals. Both wise and helpful to their humans, animals are special.

And they’re also somewhat dependent on us. Which is why I kicked into gear for a dog named Dug. Dug, a black Labrador retriever, is our neighbor. We don’t know him, or his human family. But last week, that didn’t matter.

I was just getting ready to leave when I thought a bomb went off in my front yard. BOOM – car alarms blaring – people screaming. I have never heard that sequence of sounds in real life, and didn’t know what was happening beyond noticing a speeding parade of first responders appearing out of nowhere, zooming down my street.

We live inches from Boston’s city line, although inside a woodsy oasis of urban conservation land. It’s still the city, where scary things we try to ignore happen every day. But bombs going off? I was nervous, I couldn’t see beyond our tree-lined property and wondered if the BOOM came from the small private college across the street.

In spite of searching for any breaking news, it took hours before we learned what happened. An 18-wheeler had taken out a car, throwing both its driver and a dog into the road. Although the hit shredded the car, the driver was miraculously ok. The ambulance took her to the hospital, but the dog…where was Dug?

Neighbors, the police, animal rescue – we all searched for a dog we didn’t know, dredging through the muddy woods running alongside the busy road, batting away mosquitoes, removing brush and woodsy debris along the way. But nothing.

Was he injured? Dead? Lost? They said it would be a miracle if he had survived. My heart was breaking.

So I dug deep and tried to conjure up my best psychic abilities. We’ve all got intuition – surely I could locate Dug. I tried, without success, until dusk. So I gave my phone number to the police and neighbors, and tried to let it go. If only I could.

After dinner I stepped outside to shake out my kitchen rug, and that’s when I heard it – barking, loud, big-dog barking coming from the woods behind our house. Sir Husband quickly ran into the woods with our neighbor. The two of them called and called, hoping it was Dug.

As I stood at the edge of the woods trying hard to wait, my cell phone rang.

“We have Dug! He just came home,” said the unknown woman from the accident. “I don’t know how he got here but your search must have somehow directed him home, and he seems just fine. Thank you so much, thank you.”

I’d say maybe that was a miracle.

Everything is connected. Everything.





A Very Brady Neighbor

There’s one thing I can always count on when I’m walking home from work. The wave and smile from our neighbor, Mike Brady. I’m not talking about the comb-over Mike Brady from the early days of one of my favorite childhood shows, The Brady Bunch. I’m talking the perm-version Mike Brady. Only this guy really turns up the style.

Imagine a black curly-haired poodle that you wrap up and put on your head. Black, tight curls, and perfectly coiffed 70’s style, soup bowl, puffy perm haircut. And the kicker? He has a black poodle that looks like his hair. We’re pretty sure it’s a toupee actually. Possibly made from his dog.

When we first moved to this cul-de-sac we weren’t sure of a lot of things. Like suburban cul-de-sac living, complete with new condo-style homes, nicely manicured lawns, all perfectly spaced, set in a sector of woods perfectly cut out by a builder. Sir Husband and I have owned mostly antiques – big, old, historical, charming antiques, both in a village setting, and on a rolling countryside. But in the spirit of downsizing since we only have one left at home, we bought into this scene.

Trouble is, most of our neighbors keep to themselves. Some might say this is a good thing. But even after living in New England for more than half my life, I still have my birth-right Indiana friendliness. Chatty, open, supportive, compassionate, kind, neighborly. I guess it will always be part of my make up. New England is not quite the same at first glance. These souls tend to be more private, respectful, caring at a distance, silently supportive, and neighborly as needed. I am most certain I am a New Englander from lifetimes ago, this simply feels like home, always has. But that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate some friendly gestures.

So Mike Brady is a welcome face when we turn onto our street. He seems to always be there, out front, with his hair and his dog, watering the lawn, arranging his flowers, or standing next to his big, white bus. Mike Brady is a tour bus driver, and brings his bus home before he takes a load of fans to New England Patriot’s games. As the bus pulls away, he reveals as if by magic, giant inflatable Patriot lawn figures each game day. He’s clearly full of verve.

Without fail, Mike Brady waves and smiles and even shares a small chat each time we go by. It’s hard to not laugh at his set-up, but it’s also a comfort in a way. No, we don’t really know him, but we know his friendliness, we recognize it in ourselves. It’s there at the core of our being, no matter what, and like him, we share it.

I did that at the bookstore earlier when I decided to broadcast the live stream of a global meditation led by Deepak Chopra, a world leader in holistic health,  through the speakers at the store. The second annual event, more than half a million people participated with one common intention – to connect to what truly matters through love and empathy, through kindness and compassion.

I geared up for the mid-day meditation, and although I hoped no one would come in the store, one woman did. I assumed in some way the Universe wanted her to hear the broadcast, so I let it play throughout the store despite her presence.

The point of the event was that we can change the world one person at a time. If we all tune in to our inner being and focus on kindness and compassion, we can create positive change both for ourselves and for the world around us. The broadcast was a full hour, but the meditation itself was maybe 15 minutes. Don’t allow the scenery to overshadow the scene, Deepak said. He was referring to being present with what is real and true deep on the inside in our hearts, not on the outside in the chaos.

Although Mike Brady’s perm certainly enhances the scenery, we are pretty sure we can see through the black, curly ‘do, down to the inside of his kind, friendly soul.

Changing the world one person at a time.

Mindless Knowing

We don’t know our neighbors well, everyone seems to keep rather to themselves on our cul-de-sac. There is waving or a smile when passing by, or on the driveway, or sitting on the porch. I am not sure I could even tell you their names.

So when an ambulance pulled into my driveway with lights and sirens, I panicked. Nothing was wrong in my house that I knew of, my son was online game Skyping upstairs in his room, Sir Husband was at work, and the two cats were curled up on the chair near the window.

The 40-ish year old man who lives next door had been aerating his lawn for a good part of the afternoon. It’s a noisy endeavor, sounded a bit like a leaf blower. I glanced at him out of the kitchen window with a view of our adjoining backyards, and saw him fervently pushing the large machine. He was drenched in sweat, red-faced, and looked out of breath from a distance. I didn’t think much of it, he’s a seasoned police officer, sturdy posture, and a solid frame.

I suppose when I saw him stop the machine and hunch over it a bit I should have taken notice. But I didn’t. I observed, and went about my business. My son came home from school a half hour later and went about his business. He neglected to tell me the man was now lying on the ground near our lawn. He thought he was asleep.

When I saw the ambulance in my driveway I heard my son say, “Mom, the man was asleep on the ground outside, why is an ambulance here?”  Oh my God.  “What?!!?”

I ran outside in the misty rain in my sock feet, heart beating and mind racing–I knew.

“Why are you in my driveway?” I asked the EMT.

“To pick up a patient of course,” he said.

The one who was collapsed on the edge of my lawn, who – it appeared – they were resuscitating.

Turns out he was ok. It was not a massive heart attack as we suspected. But it was hours of panic, fear, and upset before we learned he had an attack relating to Type 1 diabetes.

Apparently as blood sugar drops, you can be lulled into a kind of haze, he told us, in which you know what is going on but you don’t necessarily react to it, or tend to the drop. So he knew he was going down, but he didn’t do anything to stop it. Hmmm.

Why didn’t my son pay attention to a man lying on the lawn when he came home from school? Why didn’t I go out and ask him if he was ok, when I saw him straining from what just appeared to be difficult yard work?

We have gotten to know him a little better since the incident, but not enough to have more than a quick chat on the edge of the yard. People go about their business, and sometimes keep a comfortable distance. Could I count on them in an emergency? Not so sure. But they can count on us.

Every day is an opportunity to not just observe, but to pay attention. To ourselves, to those in our environment, and to the reality that we are somehow all connected.

Man down? Heads up.

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