Updated: Apr 1
by Karin Pendley Koser
The culture I live in, my community for 26 years now, is quite generous
toward the plights of refugees and shallow food pantry shelves, to Girl Scout cookie sellers, and young Boy Scout popcorn fundraisers, and, more seriously – the terminal health diagnoses of beloved neighbors. Southern women here answer the call, first with, well, a Call Tree, so one woman can call the next when food or help is needed. Some create a sign-up calendar with many volunteers rotating the drop-offs of home-cooked meals.
As a 17-years-single woman who struggles to get certain household things done alone, I can't
move an Amazon box that's a wee bit too heavy for me to lift into the house, or
heft three weighty planters that rest in my yard months after an overpriced pressure washer left
without moving them back where he found them.
I impatiently wait weeks and months for busy handymen to do other chores outside my ken, grumbling to myself about their escalating prices brought on during Covid-19. Sometimes, out of desperation, I skip an established boundary and default to an old boyfriend who I know will ask
for a favor in return later, albeit a platonic one.
I grew up in a time when married men and women, or single people alike
Could ask for a same-sex neighbor’s help and reciprocate frequently
in the 60s and 70s.
My mother could have used therapy after a terrible trauma
but instead, after I was tucked in and asleep,
she snuck out and down the block to the home of the busiest neighbor,
the Wisconsin-born mother of five young children
even on school nights!
I later learned they drank wine or whiskey and talked about their challenges,
and my mother shared more than I know with a woman whose life was wholly different from her own, save church-going patterns and those sneaky nights when our neighbor's husband
was out of town earning their living.
Their household was chaotic and joyful, and I did anything to be there
instead of in the frequently tense quiet of my home with mom. I heard the cry of the newest child
and ran upstairs to change his diapers before I was ten years old to relieve his mother. Those warm and
wonderful neighbors moved back to the much colder north where family was near,
and I realize now it had to be tough for us both.
I unconsciously brought my helpful neighbor propensity into my adulthood,
giving requested advice about everything from breastfeeding to wallpaper choices, watching a toddler while her mom was in labor, lending anything my (ex-)husband and I had to avoid paying for things we or our neighbors didn't have.
These days, my nearest and dearest friends may pick up a few things for each other when we go to the stores further than 3 miles from our homes, or at least ask if they have needs.
We make and deliver soups to each other if illness strikes or share portions of new recipe successes
when we’re proud of how they came out.
And yet, when I can’t reach a heavy box that needs to come down to light the tree,
or I skip grilling meats and veggies for years because the strong sons of those who helped with
unscrewing the propane tank and loading it into my car are now grown and further away,
I long for quick help that I am happy to reciprocate in many ways
with a meal, a beer, a bottle of wine delivered.
I miss the "knock when you need it," open-door times of my early life, the impromptu invitations to
come over for drinks or a potluck meal and talk to people I enjoy.
Where is the simple kind of caring for others our culture once had?
Does the privilege in my community mean that many of my neighbors need their neighbors less and
Karin Pendley Koser's BIO
Karin Pendley Koser has been a writer the majority of her life since penning poetry for contests as a child to writing everything from journalistic TV features and articles to every form of public relations and marketing material as an adult. From speech backgrounders for two US presidents and several Georgia governors and travel writing for tourism departments, the diversity of her work means she’s rarely been bored. She and her small marketing/digital content company and its employees and contractors have been recipients of regional and national awards for videos, films, social media and marketing campaigns and more.
Despite the seesawing ups and downs since the pandemic began, Karin feels fortunate to have had a variety of teaching, writing, and video production projects.
She is a graduate of the UGA Grady College of Journalism and in 2019 received her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Nonfiction & Screenwriting from Queens University of Charlotte. A photographer since she was young, she also enjoys applying creative, literary writing techniques to client work as well as to her personal work on a memoir, essays, poems, and screenplay. She volunteers any leftover time to political campaigns, voting rights equity, and arts nonprofit fundraising.
Listen to. Karin Pendley Koser's SOREN LIT interview...