At one time in my life I was a military wife. That meant spending quite of bit of time without my husband, the military member, as he tended to travel frequently away from home.
Where we lived on base at the time, all the houses were connected in groups of four units and we had a common parking area. There were only five families living on our street, with one directly across the parking lot from me and another right next door. Our next door neighbors shared a common pathway with us, where the walkways leading from our respective front doors met at a common pathway leading to the parking area.
One January found me in an advanced state of pregnancy and hubby travelling away, as usual. The New England winter had just deposited no less than 8 inches of snow that morning while I was still at work. Our office closed early so I picked up my 5 year old from school and headed home.
I pulled into the parking lot dreading the task ahead of me to still be shoveling snow so late in my pregnancy. I exited my vehicle with my daughter and stopped short. My next-door neighbors had shoveled their walkway only up to the common pathway. Boot marks (they were both military) indicated that they had also walked through the snow on the common pathway without even bothering to clear it.
I was so annoyed! I could not believe their selfishness, particularly since either my husband or I always cleared the entire area if it snowed. At the very least, the mail carrier needed to get through to the front door mail slots. And as anyone who lives in the snowy regions is well aware, if you don’t clear the snow while it’s still wet, you’ll be hacking through ice later.
Cursing under my breath (or maybe just cursing out loud) I took my daughter inside and came out with the shovel to clear the entire walkway.
I had cleared about half of it when the lady from across the street came running over and demanded of me what I was doing.
“I need to clear the snow before it freezes,” I answered. Then rather loudly for anyone interested to hear: “My next-door neighbors only cleared the path by their doorway.” I thought someone was probably inside because their car was still out in the parking lot.
She then ordered me to return indoors at once and said she would send her husband over later to clear the snow, which by the way, was still coming down.
About an hour later, not only did her husband come over and clear the entire walkway, but she had also sent over a huge portion of the most delicious homemade white chili (with chicken and garbanzo beans) and bread, which she had baked herself.
To date, this has been one of the kindest acts anyone has ever done for me. We had only ever spoken very briefly to each other at different times because I was usually at work and she was a stay-at-home mom. We normally only had just a wave to each other across the street. I remember also when they had come over and introduced themselves when we just moved there and they had also brought over food for us. I was very grateful to her that day for turning what was quite the “vinegar” experience into “honey”.