“Harper, get off the fence, honey! You’re going to hurt yourself!”, Samantha called to her daughter, who was once again playing on the fence of a public park near their home in Seattle. Unfortunately, Samantha couldn’t rush over to her because she was in a wheelchair.
She had been injured on the job a few years ago, and now she was on disability and trying to raise her four-year-old daughter as best she could. But it was never easy, especially with a child as active and curious as Harper. But for the most part, they were doing fine.
“Sure, Mom,” the little girl replied as she climbed down the fence. Samantha breathed a sigh of relief, but Harper suddenly climbed back on the fence and leaped to the side where there was a small hill she could fall on and hurt herself.
“Harper!” she exclaimed, startled by her child. She walked over to the fence to see where her daughter had gone.
Then she saw something so beautiful it almost brought tears to her eyes. Harper was holding the hand of an elderly man, as if to help him. Samantha had no idea if a little girl’s hand was that helpful, but the old man seemed happy as they approached the fence.
Finally, Samantha realized that the elderly man was their neighbor, Mr. Edison. “Oh, Mr. Edison!” she breathed, happy and relieved again.
“Mrs. Harding, your little girl was just helping me up the hill. It’s a little more difficult at my age,” the old man smiled at them, and little Harper beamed with joy.
“I see that. Good job, Harper! But it’s not a good idea to run away from me like that. Next time, tell me before you rush to help someone,” Samantha said, half-jokingly, half-seriously.
“Mr. Edison, are you going home? Would you like to take a walk with us? How about some tea and cookies too?” offered Samantha. She needed the company and adult conversation after spending all her time with her daughter at home.
“How can I refuse such an amazing offer from two amazing ladies?” the older man said, tipping his hat in an old-fashioned way.
“Oh, your yard is a little overgrown with weeds. You should have called me, I could help you,” the older man commented as they made their way to the front door.
“Yes, I can’t do any more gardening, but I wouldn’t want to bother you, Mr. Edison,” Samantha replied, shaking her head and opening the door. “Make yourself at home, please.”
Mr. Edison sat down on the couch and Harper began talking to him about anything and everything while Samantha made tea and cookies. After eating some cookies, the little girl went to her room, and the adults were able to have private, more serious conversations.
“I’m sorry I didn’t check in with you after your accident. But I didn’t know if it was appropriate either,” the man said at one point.
“It’s not a big deal. Some people helped me, but I needed to learn how to do most things on my own. I needed to relearn life, basically, so I could keep raising it. And I’m also getting ready to work from home, so my life is taking a new turn right now. But I thank you for your offer,” Samantha replied. “I would like a gardener, and I would pay you. ”
Mr. Edison shook his head as he set his cup of tea on the coffee table. “Nonsense. I’ve got my own lawn mower and everything. It’ll be free. But I have to leave now. I’ll be back tomorrow,” the man retorted, getting up and looking around the house with an inquisitive look.
“Is everything all right? ” she asked, frowning.
“Everything is fine, and everything will be fine. Anyway, thank your daughter again for her help, and I’ll see you tomorrow with my lawn mower,” Mr. Edison said, glaring at her. Then he waved and left, leaving Samantha wondering what that look meant.
“Is Mr. Edison coming today?” asked Harper the next day while eating his cereal.
“I think so, honey. He’s going to help us with the garden,” the mother replied.
“I can help too!”
“Only if he allows it, honey,” Samantha replied.
Harper heard the doorbell ring and saw her mother go to open it. The young girl followed and hid behind her mother’s wheelchair, glancing at the person at the door. A small smile spread across her face as she saw the sight outside.
“Hello!” a huge chorus greeted them, and Harper’s eyes couldn’t even determine how many of their neighbors had come. But Mr. Edison was just ahead, with an amused smile on his face.
“What’s going on?” asked Samantha, surprised.
“It’s time for us to be real neighbors and help you. I noticed yesterday that your yard isn’t the only part of your house that needs work. You have water leaks, and Mr. Langley is doing a great job of taking care of them,” the old man said, pointing to another neighbor who smiled and waved. He explained what everyone else was going to do, and Samantha didn’t know what to say with tears streaming down her face.
In a strangled voice, she wondered, “I can never thank you for this. It’s too generous of you.”
“You raised a little girl who didn’t hesitate to jump off a fence to help an elderly man up a hill. And she’s only four years old. You both deserve it,” Edison assured her, leaning down to look her straight in the eye.
“Thank you,” was all she could say after those kind words, and their neighbors got to work fixing her yard, fixing leaks in the roof, checking her plumbing, cleaning up places Samantha couldn’t reach, and more. Little Harper happily followed and helped the adults.
It was a gift Samantha never expected, but she will never forget.