Bridging the Gap

Originally Published in BC Local News

I have lived in the same house for over 14 years and both Mel (our dog) and I have fostered a fondness for one neighbour in particular.

When we first moved into our home this special elderly neighbour could be found outside gardening for hours. She would cut the grass, rearrange her many perennials, and water them every night. She carried her own garbage to the curb and we would smile at each other as I did the same. I often wished we could progress beyond the smile as I wanted to get to know her better. She would walk her old husky but I never knew who was walking who. Sadly her dog died several years later and she failed to venture outside as often.

As years went by and I increasingly focused on the task of being a working Mom, a wife and finding personal playtime, I always kept a watchful eye on the house across the street. One day we came home with our own dog who has served as the catalyst for many mutually rewarding friendships. Mel would routinely sit on her favourite perch, our bed, which had a street view, carefully monitoring our neighbour’s actions. Mel barked if she spotted her in the garden or if her front door opened. If our front door opened Mel would escape as if on a mission and dart across the street to wait. If Mel couldn’t be found at home, we knew where to find her! I happily found myself standing on our neighbour’s driveway much more often, chatting about family, her health needs and the changing community. I found that I too looked forward to our visits and being there to support her as her independence became increasingly challenged.

Nowadays there is a gardener who cuts the grass and tends to the various yard chores but my neighbour still finds the energy to water her perennials. Mel and I take her garbage out as her arthritis bothers her at times and I am waiting to see if she has been diagnosed with diabetes. We are looking for a new doctor for her now as hers has retired. She is a bit weaker, thinner and slower but she still always has that sparkle in her eye when Mel appears. I know she has her own perch where she too watches for Mel because all too often when our door opens so does hers.

I thank Mel for helping me to cultivate this friendship and for helping me to bridge this generation gap.

Denise Kelly is a North Vancouver Boomer and North Shore Vancouver CARP Chapter Chair proudly living with her two children, husband and dog Mel. She looks forward to sharing stories to motivate others.

She can be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]