A teenage boy decided to use his free time to clean up an old woman’s messy yard instead of hanging out with his friends. The following day, the old woman went out of her house for the first time, and her neighbors gathered around her, trying to figure out what happened.
Leo and his friends all lived on the same street. They’d meet on the sidewalk daily and walk towards the park, where they’d spend the afternoon playing basketball.
During winter, Leo noticed that of all the houses on the block, there was one with a messy, dirty yard that looked unattended. Leo had always been a neat freak, and passing by the house always made him cringe.
One day, after all the snow had melted and the trees were starting to bloom just in time for spring, Leo couldn’t help but stare at his neighbor’s messy yard a little longer. The melted snow showed all the buried leaves, twigs from fall, and other trash.
“You guys go ahead,” Leo told his friends while walking to the park. “I really can’t stand seeing this yard dirty,” he said.
His friends laughed at him upon hearing this. “Are you serious? Are you going to ditch basketball to clean a yard that isn’t even yours?” one of them asked.
“I can’t take it anymore; this yard is so unkempt that it ruins the appearance of our neighborhood. I’ll catch up with you all later,” Leo insisted.
None of Leo’s friends offered to stay and help, so when they left, Leo quickly got to work. He went back home and filled his wagon with the tools he needed – a rake, a shovel, a vacuum, and other gardening tools.
It took Leo the entire afternoon to clear the yard. He scraped the melting snow out of the pathway and swept the leaves from the ground. He also trimmed the bushes and left them as neat as he could.
When he was finished, Leo hesitated to ring the doorbell and inform his neighbor that he had cleaned the yard. However, he realized he hadn’t seen his neighbor in ages and didn’t want to intrude. After all, he knew that an old lady lived there alone, with a caregiver visiting her every other day.
The following morning, the old woman, Abigail, opened her door with delight. She had quietly watched Leo clean up the yard the day before, much to her relief.
Abigail had not left her house in months. She relied solely on her caregiver for her basic needs and was itching to get fresh air. After sitting in her wheelchair by her front porch for a couple of minutes, her neighbors started to notice her. They walked toward her to say hi, and soon, the crowd grew.
“It’s so lovely to see you outdoors, Abigail! How have you been?” one of them asked.
“I’m so happy to be breathing some fresh air for a change. I couldn’t leave the house for months because of the snow. It was too deep, and I couldn’t afford to hire someone to help me with it,” Abigail admitted.
“But yesterday, I saw a kind young man cleaning my yard the entire afternoon. I wanted to approach him, but I had no food to offer him because my caregiver had not arrived yet,” she shared. “He is such a blessing. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him!”
The neighbors looked at each other, guilty all over their faces. They realized they had been so blind to Abigail’s problems that no one thought to help her by cleaning her yard.
As soon as Abigail praised the “kind young man” who helped her, they immediately knew it was Leo. They decided to thank him by visiting his house, with one neighbor pushing Abigail’s wheelchair on the sidewalk.
They visited on a Saturday morning, and Leo was still asleep. He was awakened by a choir of voices calling out his name from outside.
After doing some morning stretches, he slowly walked to his window and looked out. He saw his neighbors calling for him to go downstairs.
Leo was frightened, thinking he might have done something wrong. He tried to recall whether or not he had done something to anger his neighbors, but he could not remember anything.
When he opened his front door, he was surprised to see his neighbors bearing gifts. They handed him pastries, fruits, and a huge pie.
“What are all of these for?” he asked, surprised.
“We’re here to thank you, dear. Thank you for helping me clean my yard. You are heaven sent!” Abigail said, reaching out to touch Leo’s hand.
Other neighbors chimed in, thanking him for reminding them what it meant to be a good neighbor. “You helped Abigail out when none of us did. Thank you for reminding us to be mindful of what other people are going through so we can help where we can,” one of them told him.
Leo was happy to see that he was able to help Abigail and his neighbors. Since that day, their street was always clean, and all yards were well-groomed. The neighbors declared every Sunday afternoon “neighbor day,” when they would gather on the road and help each other out.
What can we learn from this story?
Look out for your neighbors. Life can get so busy that it’s easy to brush off being mindful of our surroundings. It’s always good to practice vigilance, especially with our neighbors, so that we know when they require our help.
If you can help the elderly, do it. The elderly population has gone through a lot, and their aging bodies often can’t do what they used to. If you are capable of helping them out, you should. After all, that is what humanity is all about.
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