Neighbors deserve praise

Negative headlines and articles about people doing bad things to others — or those about bad things happening to good people — often crowd the Daily Pilot's news pages. As disturbing and depressing as they can be, this newspaper is obligated to report such stories. Yet we mustn't ignore either those stories about the glimmers of goodness in our world and small acts of collective generosity at the community level.

The story of Jeannie Tuxford and her neighbors in Costa Mesa's Mesa Verde community is one of those real-life tales that truly warms the cockles of one's heart. In the July 4 edition, the Pilot featured Tuxford's story on the front page. Hers is a story tinged with sadness but lined with the spirit of good neighborliness.

On May 15, Tuxford's husband, George, died of cancer at the couple's home on Europa Drive. On June 19, Tuxford, a mother of three daughters — an 11-year-old, a 14-year-old and one who's grown up and in her 20s — returned home from a trip to Canada, where George was from, and where Tuxford had gone to scatter his ashes. During her absence, and unbeknownst to Tuxford, a neighbor, Tracy Brown, circulated a flier among other neighbors soliciting their help in giving the Tuxford house, yard and car a makeover.

Many of them agreed to help. Brown had been aware that, during the weeks leading up to George's death, Jeannie Tuxford was so busy taking care of her dying husband that she had no time to keep the house clean or tend to the flowers in the garden. So when Jeannie returned home late that Saturday night, she came home to an abode that was squeaky clean and where the fridge was freshly stocked with food for her and the girls, and to a yard with new flowers and a just washed and detailed car.

"I was overwhelmed by the gratitude that I was speechless when I got home — I just cried," Tuxford told a member of the Pilot's editorial board.

Tracy Brown and the other neighbors didn't have to do this. But we praise them, nonetheless, for conspiring in an act of group kindness that helped cushion the loss of one so dear to Jeannie Tuxford and her daughters.

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