Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Senior woman adjusting thermostatWhen I was a kid, we had a neighbor who was the stand-in grandmother for all the kids on the block. Mrs. Nickerson always had a cookie, a smile, and a Band-Aid ready for anybody who skinned their knee on her sidewalk. She taught me how to play chess and Parcheesi on rainy days, and put up with the unholy levels of noise that came with living in a center townhouse surrounded by families with young kids. I remember when I first got hooked on Nancy Drew wondering if our Mrs. Nickerson was HER, all grown up and married to Ned (it probably didn’t help that I had also read Harriet The Spy and was convinced that everyone in the neighborhood had some kind of secret!).

Mrs. Nickerson’s family all lived far away, and the neighborhood adopted her as much as she adopted us. Our dads took care of her yardwork and the odd jobs to keep the house in good repair. Our moms sent over treats and checked in on her health, and just generally kept an eye on things until eventually, Mrs. Nickerson’s daughter brought her to live with her in North Carolina.

We are expecting temperatures to hover around 100 degrees for the next couple of days. Even if your block operates on more of a “hi & goodbye” basis than our neighborhood growing up did, please remember the seniors and help keep an eye on them. They are one of the most vulnerable groups to the effects of extreme heat, and need to be especially careful to stay hydrated. If you notice that their home is not air conditioned, stop by or call and make sure they have somewhere cool to go – many senior centers offer day programs that could be a refuge from the heat. Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask your neighbor if they’re okay – not everyone has family close by to help them out, and very few people can resist a friendly face (especially if it appears behind a plate of cookies and a pitcher of iced tea. Just sayin.)

Welcome to summer 2012 – stay hydrated, protect your skin, and have fun! Who knows, maybe you’ll find a Mrs. Nickerson on your street!

Until next time,


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