Last month, I wrote about the difficulty of having to ask for help when you just can’t do it anymore. It feels like a personal failure. Many of you reached out to tell me you agree.
But I did it. I asked. And it’s been wonderful at a time my sister and I needed it, following the death of her partner of many years.
It turns out the asking is just what some folks need to feel the spirit of community. They don’t know what they can do; you have to give them some hints. Then they fill their own need to be connected human beings at this time when we are all so desperately need it, “Happy to help in any way — it makes me feel good,” as one so succinctly put it.
My neighbor across the street is an electrician. And, I think, shy. For years we’ve communicated, when necessary, through his wife instead of face to face. Oh, we’ve nodded or said “nice day” but little else.
Then someone broke our street lantern, and my knowledge of electricity ends with Edison. I asked for help from this man who spends his workdays doing major electrical projects. What a pain to have a neighbor ask him to do a project so far beneath his skill level and on his one day off.
He not only replaced the lantern head with dusk-til-dawn activation; he went on to repaint the post. And then hauled 13 bags of trash to the dump.
We had that much trash because a neighbor down the street offered to help clean out the garage (I’d rather tidy up Daniel’s lion’s den having seen the spiders lurking behind our paint cans and sawhorses). This neighbor is a pilot and knows what to do with the arcane tools of the trade that Donna’s partner left in our garage.
In the process, over plane jacks and lathes and saws, the pilot and the electrician have become friends. The electrician’s daughter wants to fly planes; the pilot has given her a couple flight lessons.
So our needs led to a friendship, unto the next generation of aviators. How biblical is that? And it isn’t an isolated incident. The guy whose books I’ve edited is returning my hours of effort by moving furniture and repairing benches. He and the husband of a doctor friend work together like dervishes. A friendship appears to be brewing there, too.
And so many other things. The women who helped with the garage sale. The people who came to the garage sale. All people who are giving new lives to items that were old news to us. The ripples spread. Generosity of spirit manages to take root where it can multiply.
Shame on me for being so far into my seventh decade before I had the guts to ask, “Can you help me?” Give it a go. Somebody wants the opportunity to do just that for you — and who knows where it can lead?
Linda B. Myers is a founding member of Olympic Peninsula Authors. Her newest historical novel, “Dr. Emma’s Improbable Happenings,” is available at Port Book and News, One of a Kind Gallery, and on Amazon.com. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.