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Essay | Sandy Helps Make Neighbors Family

Sunday, November 04, 2012

I was among the fortunate who got through Sandy with only a little water damage in my apartment. The worse for me was losing power on Monday night and as of Saturday at 4pm our block was still without it.

For the past two years I’ve lived by myself on the top floor of a 3-story apartment building.  My 80-year-old Italian landlady, Marie, lives in the second floor apartment and her 85-year-old sister, Theresa, lives on the first floor.

I’ve gotten quite close to them. They cook for me every Sunday afternoon, usually meatballs, noodles and gravy. I’ve tried to return the favor in my own way, leaving them chocolates and big bottles of ginger ale.

Each night since the power went off, at around 8 p.m., I've gone to their apartments, said goodnight and let them kiss me on the cheek.

In the days following Hurricane Sandy, friends with heat and power offered me places to stay but I couldn’t leave Marie and Theresa. As they have said many times I'm "the man of the house!"

I returned home from charging my phone early Saturday evening and Marie and Theresa were in the hallway.  "The Elysian Cafe has chicken sandwiches and lentil soup. Do you want me to get you some?" I offered.

Marie laughed. "No, we got more macaroni than we know what to do with.”

I laughed back, let them both kiss my cheek and headed upstairs to my apartment.

A few hours later, at 10 p.m., after five days, we finally got power back! I danced around, turned on all the lights in my apartment, felt the old radiator as it was slowly getting warm. I opened the door to my apartment, the first and second floor were quiet. Marie and Theresa had already gone to bed. They’d have to wait until the morning for the good news.

I awoke this morning in a warm apartment with three less blankets and took my first hot shower in a week, while Marie and Theresa were talking in Italian in the hallway.

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