Tuesday, 8 March 2011

Children on rooftops ~ & looking out for the neighbours

I was bringing in the washing when I spied Samantha's little boy and his friend cavorting on their porch roof: they were gleefully tossing down a selection of toys... down, down, down.  He is three, and his friend the same age, or at least looked it.  I dumped the basket and ran, trying to look both calm and severe.  The upstairs bedroom window swung wide some distance above their heads; the paved courtyard below had never looked so threatening.  "Boys, what are you doing!  Go back to the window, go back to the window now!"  They retreated to below it.  "We can't get up" they explained.  "Stand right there!" I commanded, and pounded on the front door, calling to Samantha and trying not to sound agitated.  She opened the door.  "Samantha, the boys are on the roof," I pointed above my head.  Her face froze and she shot off upstairs. Stepping back I saw their little arms reaching up as she leaned out to hoist them in.  They were okay.  

But they might not have been.  Children move so quickly and imaginatively!  They had discovered that the window latch was loose and followed the impulse of the moment.  They had been having a great time.  Downstairs, the grown-ups had been enjoying a few minutes respite in the comfortable knowledge that the boys were playing in the bedroom - or so they thought!  It was a reasonable assumption.

Later Samantha came over to thank me.  She was still incoherent with shock: "I keep thinking what could have happened!" she repeated.  "Yes," I replied each time, "but they are safe, they are okay".  

There are so many near misses in all our lives, some we are aware of, and many, I suspect, of which we are quite unaware.  What angel prompted me to go out for the washing just then, or was it just a coincidence?  Who knows?  And having witnessed the danger, I still had to do something about it! 

I keep an eye out for people when I'm out and about, and if something looks odd I do say Hello and may ask, "Are you okay?"  Mostly they are, or at least say they are; sometimes they're not.  Once when I was out walking I passed an old woman on her hands and knees in her front garden.  She'd been weeding.  I said hello.  Something about her looked not quite right and I held her gaze as I continued walking.  "Could you help me up?" she enquired, "I'm stuck!"  She certainly was.  Together we figured out how to get her on her feet, exchanged names and small talk, and I went on home.  Once she was up she was okay.

Some weeks later I was out walking again when I passed a garage sale at her home.  Her family were selling off household things as the old lady and and her husband had had to move to an old people's home.  They couldn't manage by themselves any longer. 

I bought her beautiful art deco chest of drawers - and asked her daughter to pass on my greetings and appreciation.   And so it worked out that each of us helped the other: I adore the chest of drawers and could never have afforded it at its true value.  It's strange how our paths sometimes cross and re-cross with those of relative strangers in unlooked for ways. 

We all need help at times.  Our ability to give and receive it is what makes communities strong. While it certainly takes a village to raise a child, that response-ability does not end with childhood, but continues on throughout our lives.  

So I encourage readers thus: to keep a warm heart, your eyes open and your wits about you.  Now be prepared to DO something with that awareness.  

Note:
I have written an earlier article on a similar theme entitled "All those helping hands ~ some special people and ripples spreading out"

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