Monday, July 12, 2010

Life Lessons from our Neighbor Charlie

Mom sent out an email last week that was really good. I wanted to post it here so that all could read about their wonderful neighbor, Charlie.

"Cancer changes one’s perspective about a lot of things. You live more in the moment, by faith. You appreciate all the little things. You don’t take life for granted. You stop and smell the roses. Your daily routine is anything but routine. You see your loved ones with different eyes. You are far less judgmental and much more sensitive to those around you. You are much less independent and much more dependent. You are humbled.

We have lived in our house for 6 years now, and directly across from our driveway (and mailbox) is a white trailer with red trim. I never met the person who lives there and am embarrassed to say I didn’t even know his name. He had spoken to Ernie a handful of times, but was rarely seen outside. Then, Nick moved back and began to check our mail when Ernie was hospitalized for a month. Almost daily, our neighbor would see Nick, walk outside and ask about Ernie. His name is Charlie and Nick introduced him to me when we got out of the hospital.

Charlie is about our age, disabled, lives by himself, has no car, can't work, and is divorced. Life may have gotten the best of him sometimes, but Charlie saw a need, stepped up to help a neighbor, and has become one of Ernie’s most vocal cheerleaders. Let me explain…

Every Monday our trash gets picked up at the end of our long driveway, and as I said Charlie lives across the street from our driveway. Nick and I would bring our trash down every Sunday night and one Monday I noticed a man, walking with a limp, rolling our trashcan back to the house. Nick looked out the window and said, “That’s Charlie”. Well, Charlie has taken it upon himself to do this, unsolicited, ever since. Our morning newspaper has also started showing up on our front porch and I know it’s because of Charlie. And daily, as Ernie walks laps around our driveway with crutches or his walker, Charlie emerges from his trailer, stands on his little front stoop, and cheers Ernie on, clapping and shouting, “Way to go Mr. Baker!”. Having had open heart surgery and bad hips that make walking painful, Charlie understands.

We could all use a few “Charlies” in our life to open our eyes, clap, and cheer us on when times get tough. We certainly have learned some very valuable life lessons from him and ask forgiveness for not getting to know him in the past. We brought some homemade cookies and a thank you note by the other day and spoke for a while in his driveway. As we were leaving, Ernie and I heard him call out, “Love you!” I wish it hadn’t taken me so long to meet him. For some reason, Nick opened that door because Charlie felt comfortable with him. Says something about Nick. "

“…You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Romans 13:9b


  1. I LOVE this story! And what a testament to Linda, Ernie and Nick for taking the time necessary to befriend this man (despite all you have to contend with in your lives these days!)
    I can only hope that we all are reminded how important it is to reach out to the "Charlies" who cross our paths!

  2. Awesome story. It made me cry! How blessed that God has brought him into your life during this season of your lives.