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Neighbors: Family members are the closest neighbors we have

Hello neighbor.

It warmed my heart to get so many responses concerning the column I wrote about a week ago — the one in which I asked you to think about your neighbors, near and far, and treat them with kindness and respect.

Well, I just wanted to follow up with one more suggestion.

Please don’t forget the closest neighbors you will ever have — your family. These are the people who mean the very most to us. Our parents, grandparents, siblings, children, and our extended family are there for us in everything we do. They take care of us when we are sick. They cheer us on in our endeavors.

Sometimes — I am just as guilty as the next — we forget about that and take them for granted. Please don’t, because we never know what tomorrow will bring.

My mom and I didn’t always see eye to eye, but she was always there for me when I needed her, and I was always there for her. I was happy to be. I have no regrets.

While many people commented on how much time I spent with her the last five months of her life, as she lay in a bed in Poet’s Seat Health Care Center, I wouldn’t change a thing. There were times I put aside what I wanted to do to be there for her, and I would do it all over again. I only wish I’d had more time to do more for her.

I know my son Jeremy, my daughter-in-law Suzanne and I, as well as many other family members, are instilling these values in Justin. We want him to understand just how lucky he is to have so many people who love him in his life. Remember, our children, our youngest neighbors, are never too young to learn such lessons.

Start with family and helping a stranger will just come naturally.

There are many resources in the county that help us create memories and build bonds with our loved ones. Many libraries offer family activities, the YMCA is a good place for getting families together, and I’m sure there are many more.

As a matter of fact, if you are reading this and you or your group offer something like what I’m talking about, let me know so that I can let all of our neighbors know.

ALEXIS FOLEY OF WHATELY recently told me a very sweet story about her grandmother, who passed away last April. She had lived with Alexis and her parents since Alexis was born. Her grandmother watched Alexis while Alexis’ mom and dad worked.

“She was my best friend,” she told me in an email, bringing tears to my eyes as I read. She said her grandmother always wanted to bring joy to those around her. She made Christmas very special in the Foley household.

So, this past Christmas, when Alexis and her family realized they didn’t want to spend their first Christmas without Grandma at home, with so many reminders around, they took a trip to the Dominican Republic to make someone else’s Christmas special.

Alexis filled the family’s Jeep Cherokee, four times, with toys and school supplies, which had been dropped off at Holy Family Church and Frontier Regional School, and she shipped them ahead.

“My grandmother would have been so proud that we celebrated Christmas in the spirit of giving in her memory,” said Alexis.

This is exactly what I’m talking about.

MOLLY CHAMBERS CALLED ME the other day to let me know that she and Debbie Richards, along with others, collected 1,034 books throughout Franklin County to send to New York City schools and libraries affected by Hurricane Sandy.

What she really wanted to tell me during that call was that she and Debbie got a call from Gail Connor and Jeff Comenitz after they read in Neighbors that they were looking for someone to drive the books to New York. The two have since delivered the books to those who need them most.

PRUDENCE WHOLEY wrote me to tell me that John Wholey of Conway is currently recovering from a bilateral lung transplant.

On Jan. 12, John had the operation at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.

She said he is making great progress, learning to breathe with his new lungs.

If anyone would like to check on John’s progress, Prudence said he has a caringbridge.org site.

Get well soon, John. Our thoughts are with you.

And now, there are a couple of things going on in the county that you might want to know about now so you can plan:

OUR LADY OF CZESTOCHOWA CHURCH will offer a Polish cooking class, featuring the lost art of how to make chrusciki, also known as angel wings or bow ties, on Feb. 23 from 1 to 3 p.m.

Chrusciki is a thinly rolled, fried pastry, which is dusted with powdered sugar. It is often served on holidays or at special events.

If you plan to participate in the class, you will have to bring your own apron, rolling pin and breadboard. Registration is $20. Call Our Lady today to register: 413-863-4748. You could learn how to make them and then share some with family and neighbors.

MILLERS RIVER WATERSHED COUNCIL is sponsoring “River Verses,” a poetry contest.

MRWC is inviting people to compose a poem about a local river or tributary, sharing what it means to you, how it looks, why you enjoy it, or how it makes you marvel. The poem must be no more than 51 lines (for each mile of the Millers River), the river or tributary must be named, and the poem must give a sense of the river or watershed. The limit is two poems per poet. There will be youth and adult categories. The deadline to enter is Feb. 28 and winners will be announced on April 5.

For more information, visit: www.millerswatershed.org. You can also call Keith Davies at 978-248-9491.

THE GREENFIELD GARDEN CLUB is offering small grants to teachers, schools, or organizations that work with children in Franklin County.

The grants should be used to create a project that involves gardening, plant science, ecology or any related subject. Grants will be between $50 and $200.

The deadline to submit a proposal is March 1. Grant checks for those awarded will be mailed the first week of April.

For more information about how to apply, contact the Greenfield Garden Club at: greenfieldgardenclub@yahoo.com.

To contact Anita Fritz, a staff reporter at The Recorder, send an email to: anita.alice.fritz@gmail.com or call 413-772-0261, ext. 280 or call her cell at 413-388-6950. You can also reach Anita on Facebook at Anita’s Neighbors. Information to be included in Neighbors may also be sent to: neighbors@recorder.com up to noon on the day before you want it to run.

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