Meet Joe and Ralph,
Joe is Ralph's new neighbor, who just moved into the neighborhood.
Moving in only 3 weeks earlier from the inner city, he is quickly finding out that things are quite different here in a suburb.
The sounds, the smells and the neighbors themselves are all much much different.
While growing up in the city, it was a normal thing to get to know your neighbors and become friends. Though, here in the suburbs he is finding that friendships here are more of a stare and gossip type of relation rather than getting to know each other.
Every morning Joe likes to take his dog scraps for a walk. Today was no different, and why not. It was a beautiful day.
As he was on his walk, Scraps decided that it was his time to do his morning business. Knowing this happens Joe is always prepared with baggies to pick and clean up after scraps just as he had done in the city.
Unfortunately it was the wrong place to go.
Ralph, Joe's neighbor down the street was out this morning watering his plants in the front yard. Seeing the dog and what was happening in his front yard he became angry inside. He starts yelling at Joe telling him “to get off his yard” and “how dare he let his dog do this in his yard.”
Joe tries telling him he is going to pick it up and clean it but he isn't hearing him. Ralph continues yelling at Joe and now is in Joe's face. Continuing to back up from Ralph he still tries to still let him know that he was sorry for what had happened and it wouldn't happen again.
Ralph wasn't having it today, he continued towards joe in his hostile manner saying everything he could towards the young man. Now the two are in the middle of the street as all the neighbors come out to see what the commotion was all about.
It was the next few moments that would change the neighborhood forever.
Seeing everything happening at this point, the concerned neighbors started to step in also trying to deescalate the situation at hand. Nobody was getting through to Ralph. Nothing was calming him down. It was time to call the authorities they thought.
Ralph had lost his wife of over 50 years recently. Spending most days in complete isolation in the house he has developed a negative anti-social behavior. He stopped talking to the neighbor as he used to do. There were no more morning walks to be done while waving to the children as they went to school. Ralph had fallen victim to depression and was alone with no assistance or help to deal and cope with what was happening in his life. The neighbors who were once friends were now strangers. So he disappeared with the one exception he enjoyed most was coming out to water his plants. He used to do this everyday with his wife and it was the only moment of the day when you would see him smile.
Joe was the unlucky recipient of Ralphs Meltdown. This wasnt normal and nobody actually knew what was happening since they had all ignored Ralph for so long. The fighting continued until something nobody would have ever expected to happen.
After looking at Ralph and then looking around for a moment, Joe saw what was happening. He could see the hurt and pain in Ralph's eyes. He could see the neighbors and how unneighborly they had become with Ralph. Joe could feel what Ralph was feeling as he was feeling the same. Without holding back Joe reached in and hugged Ralph. Joe knew what Ralph needed because he had gone through the same thing one year earlier when Joe lost his Fiance’ to Cancer. This was the reason for him moving from the city to his new home.
The neighborhood became quiet, the yelling and argument had stopped. Everyone watched in confusion as this new man to the area who nobody knew was here in the street hugging the man who was just threatening and screaming at him. But all was ok. This embrace lasted for what seemed a lifetime, but was the changing point for many lives.
This embrace showed Ralph that people care. It was the touch and compassion from another human being that Ralph had not felt since the passing of his wife. The feeling and warmth of caring and compassion.
He knew now that someone cared even if they were a stranger.
Ralph backed off from Joe, looked at him with tears in his eyes, turned and went back into his house. Saying nothing to Joe or anyone.
Joe did as he said and cleaned up scraps droppings from the front yard. All the neighbors receded to their homes like sheep headed into their pens.
Joe finished his walk, but that wasn't the end. For the next few days Joe went by Ralph's house on his walks, but he didn't see him out at all.
A week went by until one morning on the morning walk Ralph was standing outside. He waited until Joe got close and called him over.
Joe walked over not knowing what was to happen seeing how their last encounter was. Without hesitation Ralph reached in and repaid the hug by giving Joe the embrace he needed too.
Standing there in the street the men started to cry together realizing now that they both had a friend who cared for each other.
Ralph stepped back and looked at Joe and said 2 words to him “Thank You”.
They had gone through the same kind of trauma by losing their wives. They were both dealing with loss alone by themselves. It took the power of kindness from a stranger to see what someone needed no matter the circumstances or surroundings.
Joe and Ralph could now be seen everyday together walking the neighborhood and taking care of the plants but together now and not alone. They were glad that a horrible first meeting had developed into a lifelong friendship with each other. They helped each other find happiness again.
This friendship did last until the end. Ralph died 8 years later peacefully in his sleep. But Joe was ok because he knew that not only did Ralph have a good life but that Ralph had also made Joe's life better too. You never know what a hug and a little compassion can do for someone.
This is Joe and Ralph…Scraps too.