Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Love thy neighbor

I'm having a little bit of trouble with "Love thy neighbor" these days.

My neighbor, whom I'll call Annie, is only a year older than I am, but is a recluse. No, seriously. I have not laid eyes on her in two years, and I didn't see her frequently before that. We have long suspected that Annie suffers from mental illness, some kind of paranoid condition, perhaps, because on her front door are many post-it notes forbidding anyone from knocking for any reason.

She is long divorced, chronically short of money, and her house is falling down on her head -- there's a tarp over part of the roof, and the paint on the rest of the house has nearly all chipped away. The neighborhood regards it as an eyesore, and a neighbor who was once inside (many years ago) told me that Annie is a hoarder, and that the house is so full that she is forced to live in only one room.

Following a back injury two years ago, Annie can no longer drive, and so the car sitting in her driveway has four flat tires.

In all, it seems like a rather desperate situation. Until recently, Annie seems to have been relying on people from her church to do her marketing and errands. Now, for some reason, that help has stopped. Perhaps she was depending on the same people too much.

Now, however, she wants to depend on me.  When I go to the grocery store, I am asked to go over to her house and find money and a list in a cereal box between the screen door and the inner door. The list is always written on several nearly illegible index cards, and her "order" always includes several money orders -- she has no checking account. When I return home everything I have purchased needs to be inserted back between the doors, which she will not open, and I am to phone her immediately to let her know her items are there.

So it's a peculiar situation. Annie really needs to sell the house and move to a place more manageable for her, where her limited mobility and lack of money can be addressed. I don't know how long I can go on being her lifeline. I did suggest to her that she needed more helpers than just myself, but she continues to call and make requests.

So how far does "love thy neighbor" extend?  She's in a terrible fix, and I feel like an enabler. This is a problem I am especially prone to (ask my husband). Is there a graceful exit for me?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Dear Judy,

I haven't heard from you in a long time. You post an interesting problem.

If we take the Bible literally it's seventy times seven. I hope you are receiving prayers and support. I will certainly keep you in my prayers.

God bless and keep you,

PS give me a call,please.