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25 Jan

Good grief, but it hurt.

Yes, I try to keep myself in good shape to keep up with the cadets. And yes, I am working towards my black belt, so it’s obvious that fitness is pretty important to me. So imagine how low I felt this past week when my lower back hurt so bad I literally at times could not get off the floor unassisted. Pretty humbling, pretty frustrating.

It was a testament to my ongoing battle with Father Time, which I will ultimately lose. It was a reminder that no matter how much effort I put into the contrary, I am getting older and need to be careful. It was a moment to remember that no matter how strong and how well I learn karate, there will be times when even with a great deal of effort I will not be able to restrain my not-quite-five year old son.

Add to it all the ignominy of how I actually hurt myself. This retired Navy warrior, this tough former Seabee, this (working towards) bad ass martial artist, hurt himself by the strenuous and risky act of sitting in a chair. A few days after Christmas I was sitting at the kitchen table building Legos with my son, in a chair that I have sat in hundreds of times before. I was either there too long or at the wrong angle or a combination of both, because when I got up, my lower back spasmed and that was all she wrote. I tried to take care of it best I could by laying on the floor and applying heat; all that happened was that my dog licked my face and my robot vacuum tried to take off my eyebrows. A few days later I was locked up so hard that I was face down on the couch, couldn’t get up, and couldn’t even really move. Not a great ending to the holidays.

My neighbor is a Jewish chiropractor. I mean that as descriptive clarifiers only; they have no more bearing on the type of man he is than my being a Christian teacher does; the points are made to provide (limited) information only. He is the type of man/neighbor/friend that will do anything for his neighbors in order to keep the neighborhood a safe and home-like place for all involved. As an example, whenever it snows he is always out with his snowblower working on his driveway, and then the neighbors’. We all fall in with some shovels and assorted bottles of adult comfort and help all of us do all the driveways and sidewalks. It’s a microcosm of what neighborhoods are supposed to be about (sharing, looking out for each other, and drinking before noon). Anyway, he has practiced his chiropractic arts on me before, never charging me, and always with great relief on my part. So, at my lowest ebb, face down on the couch, ready to have my wife take me to the ER because I didn’t know what else to do, I called him and begged for help. He was at dinner (it was New Year’s Day, did I mention that?), and did what any good doctor and good neighbor would do. He told me he would be there shortly to take a look at me.

The good doctor (and if you don’t think chiropractors are doctors, stick it in your ear) took a look at me on my couch, stretched me and bent me a few ways to relieve the most severe pain, and told me to come to his clinic the next day. There his team worked me over, made me feel better, and charged me exactly zero. A week later, they did the same thing. Total charge for the housecall and two clinic sessions? The number of days in a year, times twelve, times zero.

At our core, this is what we and our neighborhoods should be about. Not about money, or about doing favors for each other so that we get something in return. (I have tried to pay my neighbor for his services, but in the end the only thing he accepted was a bottle of Glen Livet.) Not about my religion or your religion (guess what folks? In the end we all talk to the same One). It should be about relationships; I watch your house and you watch mine. I’ll keep an eye on your kids when they are playing outside, because I know when my back is turned you will keep an eye out on mine. Come see me if you need an egg, or a jump for your car, or to borrow a screwdriver.

Sadly, I lived so many places I have lost track, but neighbors and neighborhoods like this are few and far between. Don’t get me wrong, I have had good neighbors in the past (Yvonne and Tim, Carol), and God-willing will have them again in the future, but I just don’t remember being in a neighborhood that was such a good reflection of what I was taught they were supposed to be.

As for the back, it still hurts, but I’m mobile, and thanks to my neighbor and the VA, doing much better. And I’m a whole lot more appreciative of my neighborhood….


One Response to Back in the neighborhood…

  1. Pam Parolari

    January 25, 2018 at 11:32 pm

    You made me snort with the robot vacuum trying to take off your eyebrows.

    I sure miss you/Greg/Jay comedy show on the 4th floor!

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