You never know what someone else is going through. It’s easy to rush to judgement and form opinions based on what you see, but before reproaching someone, it’s good to know all the details.
Elise Ryan, a grandmother in Landing, New Jersey, was the recipient of a harshly-worded letter from a neighbor. She’d been struggling to keep her property maintained, and they wanted to let her know how they felt about it.
Ryan received an unsigned and judgmental letter from a neighbor.
Ryan’s property had become overgrown and sloppy—at least one of her neighbors thought it was unsightly enough to leave the woman a mean-spirited note in her mailbox recently.
“Show some pride in your property and the property of your neighbors,” Ryan said as she read the note to CBS New York.
Little did her neighbor know that it was important commitments elsewhere that drained her of all her time and energy.
“I was hurt and I couldn’t imagine who would do that,” Ryan said of the author of the letter she received.
All of Ryan’s efforts had been going into caring for her 10-year-old grandson Matt, who was diagnosed with brain cancer. Since his diagnosis, Matt’s health, and the welfare of his twin sister have consumed all of Ryan’s waking minutes.
Ryan put signs outside of her house to let her neighbor know why she’d neglected her yard.
On bright orange poster board, Ryan affixed a series of signs to her fence with her reply to her neighbor’s note.
“To my neighbor who left me a nasty letter about my yard in my mailbox and didn’t sign it … my priority is my 10-year-old grandson who has been in the hospital fighting for his young and precious life,” the signs said.
“I have been busy caring for his twin sister and their house and pets! I pray that next year all of my priorities are as simple as leaves and twigs.”
The other neighbors in the area had no idea Ryan was going through such a tough time. They decided to lend her a helping hand.
Members from the neighborhood got together and cleaned up Ryan’s yard.
Armed with rakes, hoes, leaf blowers, and a good attitude, her neighbors got her yard in order faster than Ryan could have imagined.
“Regardless if it’s cancer or if it’s something else, you don’t know what somebody is going through,” Christine O’Connor, Ryan’s neighbor, said to CBS New York.
“Maybe they’ve just been sick, maybe they’re going through anything. You never know.”
Ryan is grateful to the help her neighbors offered her. Instead of responding with more criticism, they showed her kindness, understanding, and a sense of community.
“To see something like this happen was unbelievable. No one can get over it, so everyone’s coming up to help today,” neighbor Georgiana Farnsworth said to CBS New York.