I had gotten a phone call a while back from an old friend from my old neighborhood in Queens Village. His name is Henry and he is over 90 now and still hanging in there as last I heard.
It was good to reminisce about old times and how the old neighborhood has changed and how some things have remained the same. He told me his wife Teresa had passed away before Christmas a few years back but he still attends St. Joachin and Anne parish in Queens Village. He tells me some of the priests retired or have moved on but the message is the same, “Love one another.”
As I had hung up the phone, it occurred to me what a good neighbor Henry was to me and my family and how he put a proper focus in my life. Back in 1963, my mother died and I was 14 years old and living with my father, who was 72 years old and said he had to remain strong for me. We didn’t have family close by and we were really hurting. My father had friends and distant relatives who said, “if you need anything be free to call.”
But Henry was different, he actually came over to help. He got my father to write a list of what he needed from the grocery store because we didn’t have a car and he had troubling walking and I was in school. He told us he traveled to various stores to get the very best prices. Henry told me that I had an increase in responsibilities because my father would need a lot of help. He showed me how to clean the house and how to do simple repairs. Now, he wouldn’t do the work and I would have to do it myself and he would be back to inspect my work.
I think he imbued in me a deep sense of responsibility that has stayed with me my entire life. So much so, later in life I had dedicated myself to serving the community and St. Anastasia parish in Douglaston and today I have worked for Northeast Plumbing in Mineola for 35 years and I am also Grand Knight of St. Anastasia Knights of Columbus Council #5911.
I guess my gripe is that today how many of us see a neighbor hurting and just offer sympathy and lip service and don’t go the extra mile. Some may say they don’t have the time to help others because they have their own families who need them as well.
Well, Henry found the time and he had a full-time job and four children to be concerned with. I think we all should try to help our neighbors in need and do our best even though we may be going out of our way to do so.
Now, to my old neighbor Henry who as a teenager I would respectfully call, “Mr. Herte,” let me say thanks for being such a good neighbor, mentor and a friend for you are truly very special indeed.
Frederick R. Bedell Jr.
Glen Oaks Village