Love thy neighbor

People often ask me if I have family here in the US. All these days I have been saying I have a cousin in D.C, but other than her, nada! But lately, I have changed my answer. I say, my adopted sister lives just down the street, just 3 houses down!

This write-up is going to be about her. You know how you come across a certain person, who touches your life in a special way and makes you a better human? She is one of those people. She loves Jesus in her life, she is a true believer because she tries to lead her life as Jesus intended for us to live. I respect her faith immensely because she lives by it.

Now, I am not an emotional kind of gal, but I know I will tear up from time to time while writing this blog. Wait, while I go get my tissue box! I met her while we both were waiting with our daughters at the bus stop, on the first day of kindergarten. We had just moved into our neighborhood – from India! Yes, huge move. We had no friends, no family nearby and no aquaintances. I was pregnant with my second child, and very sick. She came up to me and introduced herself. Her fourth child, nine months old at that time, on her hips. Next time I
saw her, she was standing by my front door with cookies in her hand to welcome me to the neighborhood. We were very close in age, and the girls were in kindergarten, so we saw each other from time to time. Since we had moved from India with only 7 bags, we had no furniture, no tv, Sahana had no toys, only a few books. It is not a surprise, Sahana preferred to spend time at Ms. Wendy’s house than her own. Towards the end of the pregnancy, my body had had enough of the torture. It decided to rebel! Late at night, (always late at night), my body said “Are you planning to go to bed tonight? Un uhn! Not so fast, your blood pressure is spiking, get yourself admitted in the hospital!’ I generally pleaded to Sean ‘I will lie quietly and not move! The pressure will come down. Please, it’s going to be ok, let’s not go to the hospital!’ Since I had a history of erratic blood pressure spikes, the doctor had mentioned the dreaded word ‘preeclampsia’! My poor husband, worried he was going to end up with two kids and a dead mother, completely disregarded my plaintive voice and called Wendy around 11 at night for help. Little Sahana, fast asleep in her room, couldn’t go to the hospital. Wendy had four kids of her own, yet her response was ‘Coming right up, you guys get ready!’ This happened 3 times! Finally my ob/gyn said enough is enough, I had started to resemble the Michellin man, and that was her cue to get the baby out. Get admitted, pronto! But one little problem, where do we keep our six year old daughter? My mother-in-law had her ticket to fly down and hold the fort while I went to the hospital, but that was not for two days still. Who do we turn to? You guessed it. Sahana stayed the night at Ms. Wendy’s house while I went to climb Mt. Everest, ummmmm….gave birth to the little guy. I don’t know what we would have done if she wasn’t our neighbor.

She bailed me out on several occasions, when I had to run to Sahana’s school, when my father had to be taken to the hospital and I had nowhere to keep the kids. She was there for me on numerous occassions, I can’t possibly write down every one of them, but she knows I am thankful for every one of them.

I do want to mention this one story, when I, yet again, felt her love! I take my dog out for a walk every morning around the neighborhood. I go by Wendy’s house, we generally exchange pleasantries. One morning, she was there by her door, I yelled good morning, waved and continued on my walk. All of a sudden, I heard thunder and the sky broke open! Sage and I were caught in a heavy rain. We tried to take shelter under a tree, but the effort was completely futile. So I spoke sternly to my scaredy dog. “Dog” I said, “We are not going to melt in the rain, lets just keep walking!” Under protest, with his tail behind his legs, my dog followed! After a few minutes, I saw the headlights of a car coming my way. It was my friend coming to rescue me from the rain. To see if I needed a ride back!!! She saw the rain, she knew I was out walking and would get drenched! She came looking for me. She had to get her 5 month old infant and her 3 year old toddler in her car, in that torrential downpour. She did it, though!

She is the kind of person who does things which I would LIKE to do, but don’t do it because of the inconvenience. Things like opening her home to neighbors so the community can be more close-knit. She cooks casseroles to send to homeless shelters, she cooks dinner to take to bereaved families and others in need. She offers her house to young women who are struggling to get their footing. She takes the initiative to open a community book club so we can meet and discuss books.

It is not mere lip service when I say I am a better person for knowing her. She is truly my hero. And at this festive time, I would like her to know how much I care for her and appreciate having her in my life. Wendy Gladstone, you rock!

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