The film “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” brought actor Tom Hanks an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of the lovable Fred Rogers. For 33 years, young children sat in front of TVs to become a part of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” It was safe and secure, fun and friendly and modeled kindness, a bit like my neighborhood.

Last weekend, a bad cold kept me from walking up and down the street with my neighbors, wine glass in hand, for the annual progressive dinner on our block. As I watched the event unfold from my window, little scenarios from the past year kept me mindful company.

I started thinking about the value of neighborhood.

Sure, it’s the food and the fun that comes from the gathering of friends. It’s the caring focus of disaster preparedness meetings that empower us to help ourselves and each other. But all this is fueled by relationships, some going back years.

Sue and I have come full circle. We carpooled our young children to school and many years later carpooled our moms who lived in the same nursing home. Last year, when I got word at 2:30 in the morning that George was failing, I did not hesitate to call her.

“Call me at any time,” she had said, and I knew she meant it.

Minutes later, she arrived from her house across the street to my front door and gave me a hug and a warm jacket. Her son drove and she held my hand all the way to the hospital, knowing I was terrified I wouldn’t make it in time.

When I brought George home to go on hospice care the next day, everything was in place. Sue had alerted neighbors to help move furniture to make room for and oversee the delivery of his hospital bed and medical supplies.

In the days and weeks following my husband’s death, neighbors performed activities of kindness that would have delighted Mr. Rogers. In many cases, I didn’t know who did what. I just knew the whole block had my back. Meals arrived. My trash cans were taken to the curb on pickup day. My window boxes were watered.

Next door neighbor Bud installed a motion sensor light in my front yard that comes on when I pull my car into the driveway. When an earthquake rocked our area, his wife Nancee, our resident preparedness expert, came over with extra flashlights and words of comfort.

Several weeks before George got too sick to leave the house, we went for an afternoon walk. He had rallied and we were so happy that he was able to walk all the way up the incline to the top of our street. As we came home, several neighbors were outside cheering him on and clapping. He greeted each of them personally. Hugs were exchanged.

Every time I walk up the block, I experience the warmth of that day. I hear the clapping and see the smiles. I feel the hugs. It was a beautiful day in the neighborhood.

LA Daily News