Love Thy Neighbor…Do Laundry For Them

I know. It’s a dangerous thing to suggest any kind of social interaction in these terrifying times. But allow me to explain.

I was coming back from a run yesterday and noticed a strange car at my neighbor’s house. Their front door was open and the car’s doors were open. This was not the first odd thing I had seen at that house this week.

Three days ago, the father of the four boys who live there was packing his SUV with boxes in the early-morning hours, and doing it in a hurry, not saying anything. The day before that, I saw his wife and the mother of the boys, and even from a socially-safe distance, she did not look good. Normally bouncy and energetic, she looked exhausted, which I assumed was from two weeks of 24/7 under one roof with four kids.

Turns out I was wrong. She is sick and hospitalized, illness unknown.

The boys are with her parents, and the stranger I saw at the house was a great-grandmother, all 84 years of her. Tiny but energetic, she was there to clean and do laundry, since the illness and hospitalization had overwhelmed the family. Dad has a business and has to work, grandparents have charge of feeding and educating the kids and it’s up to great-grandma to get their house in order and do the laundry left behind by six people. I’ve never done laundry for little kids, but I’m told it can be an ugly job. So I volunteered to do a load.

Another neighbor heard me offer and gave us both the stink eye from his garage. (Note to that neighbor: those four boys really like you, but after this, I am snitching on you for that rude look). I disinfected everything before it came into contact with my house, did the load of towels and brought them back. Great-grandma was pretty happy with the help, since her little condo double-stack washer/dryer combo would have been working a lot harder than my machines. And yes, I offered to do more if the need arose.

Isolation and social distancing are not the equivalent of ignorance. Most of us know better, and reach out to those in need whether we have a lot or a little to give. I have always found that it in times of greatest need, the smallest gestures make the biggest difference.

Love and kindness through laundry. Or if you prefer, #lovethroughlaundry.

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