My neighbor across the hall is a friendly, happy-go-lucky single mom with 2 charming sons–one grown, who is beyond nice, and her little 3-year-old, as smart as a whip and officially our most adorable neighbor ever.
She is a pretty lady who looks less than half her 50 years. Put a laptop in front of her, a Starbuck’s latte in her hand, and, with the prerequisite backpack, she could be a recent grad school student.
While DNA plays a prominent role in our well-being and physical appearance, one has to wonder if saving some one’s life, a saintly selfless act, brings the bonus reward of the forever fountain of youth. Forget face lifts, botox and fillers, true altruism may be the key to becoming ageless.
Years earlier, as a young mom working full-time while raising her oldest son, the news came that her sister’s son was in desperate need of a kidney transplant. Her nephew was young with his whole life ahead of him; yet his survival was in direct jeopardy. So my lovely neighbor donated a kidney and saved his life. She gave him a reset to a life full of opportunities.
Now she has never told me her heroic story, not a bit of this, but her proud mom did. And not in any way to brag, she was sharing her concern: Like all mothers, she worries about her daughter and wants the best for her. She does feel great pride in her close-knit family and how her daughters love each other enough to have ties that bind securely, and literally save lives.
Last Christmas, 2020, I opened the best present ever. This same thoughtful neighbor gave me a special-order, beautifully designed throw pillow with 3 photos of my youngest, special needs adult son and me. The photos are of his last birthday party; they captured the abundant smiles and joy of the day. This precious pillow has the large cursive letters “Blessed” under the photos and below, in smaller print, Mother and Son.
How on God’s green earth can anyone, anywhere top this present for me? (Impossible, but a very close second, practically neck-and-neck, would be the St. Anthony coffee mug my older son sent me for this same Christmas. He remembered my praying to find taxis on rainy Mondays in Manhattan while being almost late to drop him and his brother off at different schools in different directions. Yes, St. Anthony was evoked aloud in a pre-GPS desperation prayer and he never failed to help. Amen!) Now this neighbor has set the bar for gift-giving to me at the top of Mt. Everest with this most original, bring-on-the happy-tears item.
Early on in the pandemic, my neighbor came down with Covid-19. She’s an essential worker in the busy food hub of Hunts Point, Bronx, NY which supplies fruit and vegetables, etc. throughout the 5 boroughs. In the morning, I see her walk her dog, take her beautiful little boy to daycare, and then it’s off to work. She has people depending on her, but you wouldn’t know this by her gentle manner, and calm and likable nature. On weekdays around early dinner time you can literally hear her little son’s patter of sneakered feet as he runs off the elevator down the hall to their apartment door and upon reaching it declares, to his Mom, “ I win!”
Yes, you did win, big time, with an amazingly giving Mom like yours. Enjoy the wonderful life ahead— you and your cousin!