Elaine and Shelly Greenberg of Farmington Hills, Michigan, have a long driveway plus a circular drive. The appeal of these exterior features diminishes in winter. One snowy morning during the country’s recent polar vortex blitz, their plow service came early. The wind blew snow back onto many of the areas they cleaned; the walkway remained snowbound.
Indoors, Elaine was too busy to worry about the weather. She was assembling gift bags for cancer patients.
A professional singer, Elaine is a 14-year ovarian cancer survivor. She began a charity, Living for Music, Inc. to support cancer patients and increase awareness. She and sister survivors lecture on o.c. symptoms. Elaine and Shelly also create and deliver gift bags to hospital cancer departments in the Detroit area. Bags include blankets, stuffed animals and Elaine’s own CD. Funds for the insulated bags come from Jazz A Lot, an annual jazz concert they started. The next one is May 27.
Last year the Detroit Free Press ran an article on blankets knitted by the Cancer Thrivers Network. The Free Press told how cancer survivors knit blankets for current chemo patients. When the article went viral, yarn skeins and knitted squares poured into the Detroit Jewish Community Center. Though Elaine first wondered what could be done with these random donations, friends stepped in. The yarn and squares were transformed into a rainbow of blankets.
(I’ve also been on the receiving end of Elaine’s good deeds. When I had cancer several years ago, my girlfriend Shelley Golden bought one of Elaine’s hope-inspiring CDs and asked her to deliver it in person. Elaine spent more than an hour listening to my laments and attempting to cheer me up—a daunting challenge at that point.)
Back to the gift bags. Taking a moment from folding blankets to glance out her bedroom window, Elaine spotted her neighbor, Joseph Diego. Unasked, he was shoveling the Greenbergs’ entire walkway and snow blowing what the pros had left behind. Elaine realized this was far from Joseph’s only good deed. Periodically the Greenbergs’ recycle bin disappears from the curb and shows up back near the garage. Upon the first snowfall this year, a mysterious path was cleared so the Greenbergs could get their mail. During a power outage, Joseph kept calling to see if his neighbors needed ice or groceries.
The Greenbergs have lived in their home for almost 40 years. Several families have moved in and out of the house next door.
“No one has ever been this kind and thoughtful,” Elaine says. “Of course, we haven’t always been senior citizens either. Angels come in all different forms. You just have to recognize them when they appear.”
Nice to live next door to an angel. If you ask me, it takes one to know one.
(What angels have shown up in your life? I’d love to hear about them.)