Growing up, my mother, just like most mothers, encouraged us to do our best in school, make right choices and to be kind to others. It was a life lesson that my mother taught me not so much with her words, but with her actions and it has been a principle that I have tried to live by and for good reason.
My mother always told us to get to know those around you, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker so to speak. My mother knew her neighbors, and those she did business with. We would walk into the grocery store and she would know the cashier and the boy bagging our groceries by name. She knew the local pharmacy owner by name and always asked how his wife and kids were doing. We would go through the drive thru lane at the bank and it was “Hey Mary, how’s your son doing in college? Did he get that job?” As a teenager I remember thinking it was a nuisance and even embarrassing that she would do this.
Now as an adult I look back and see just how wise she was. In the earlier years of our lives when we stilled lived with a father who abused alcohol, spending money on his addiction and little on food, it was the relationship that my mother had with the local owner of a small grocery store that he allowed her purchase food on credit and pay it back slowly over time.
When our ailing grandmother lived with us and didn’t have insurance to pay for her medication, it was because of the relationship that my mother had with the owner of the pharmacy that he promised my mother that medication would be given even if it took years to pay off my grandmothers bills.
I could give many more examples but the lesson I learned was to get to know the people in your life. In a world where technology plays more importance than relationships, face to face relationships this can be a challenge, but it’s important.
When our son almost died from encephalitis several years ago, I saw the relationships that we had nurtured come to my aid in ways I could never repay. When we began the process of moving to the south last year, it was a simple text to a handful of friends that I was in need of help, and the responses of “I’ll be there” began to pour in. It was the personal relationship I had developed with our family doctor that when after moving I began to believe something was not right, that I wasn’t feeling like myself that she took my phone call from the south and came to my aid.
It is the very relationships that we nurtured and established over the years that made our move to the south difficult to leave, but have been there to make the transition smoother, even from a distance. Having left a daughter behind to finish high school there have several times where others have been there to fill in what she needed because of our relationship with them. (Not just friends, but doctors, dentists, etc.) Making the decision to allow her to stay there was made easier because of the network we had developed.
Yes, while it’s much easier to text, email and connect on social media, the lesson of good old fashioned face to face conversations is one that I want to pass on to my children. Know who your neighbor is, talk to the person who bags your groceries, and get to know others in a more personal way.
Seems simple, but it’s an art I think the younger generation stands to lose as technology begins to replace face time in our relationships.
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