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MEEKER | “S’pose you youngsters could use a little help.”
This warm, western, welcome from an area resident has continued throughout our years of living in this rural community and continues to be extended whenever we travel throughout the state. After traveling many miles from home, someone who has heard of the community, has lived in the town of Meeker, or knows someone who is related to a Meekerite introduces themselves.
It is often unexpected help in sudden situations. Whether it be an emergency that has cropped up out of town or circumstances that arise here at home, one can count on the help of neighbors and friends. My first offer of help from strangers in my new adopted state seemed to come up out of the blue. Traveling up in the high country above Leadville and trying to help my companion extricate our car’s back tires from the mud after fording a small stream, I looked up to see a lean, lanky, cowboy of indiscriminate age offer to pitch in to help get the vehicle’s tires unstuck. My recall of the rest of the incident has changed over the years. I don’t remember if he helped us dig out, or he had to use his chains to pull us up, I only remember his kind offer.
I am no longer a youngster, yet this offer of help continues almost daily. Many times it goes unsaid, as someone sees the sudden circumstances and pitches right in to help in some way. It can be an accident or physical incapacity that has left one homebound so people appear at the door with a pie, flowers, or an offer to do a chore. It can be from someone one knows, but often comes from newcomers, middle-timers, or old-timers. It might be preceded by a salutation that doesn’t reflect your particular vintage. Gal, miss, friend and guy are heard as often as a given name. That sense of familiarity gives the comfort and reassurance that underneath the stranger’s exterior lies a fellow westerner, a neighbor of sorts. Lending a hand or two to help in a wide variety of situations helps form bonds of friendship. That person’s unexpected empathy makes us all so much more comfortable. Everyone, no matter their age, needs to feel welcomed, as if a move out of unfamiliar territory was worth it.
Not long after moving to the area, I discovered my elderly neighbor at my front door.
“I heard you were in a bad accident. Please gather up what you need ironed each week and I would be glad to have the woman who helps me each week do your ironing too.” Visits, calls, and food from almost total strangers filled the house in a few days.
By Dolly Viscardi | Special to the HT