DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a loudmouth neighbor who has been remarkably quiet recently. She told me that she got cancer and was going to have to undergo treatment. My guess is that this is why she has gone radio silent. I see her husband and son from time to time; when I ask them how she’s doing, they are pretty tight-lipped, but I can tell that things aren’t so good. I like this woman even though she can be a pain in the neck. I would like to do something for her, but I don’t want to overstep my bounds. She loves to cook and would sometimes share dishes she had made with me. Do you think it would be good to make her a special dish? -- Reaching Out
DEAR REACHING OUT: It’s good that you have noticed your loud neighbor’s radio silence. And yes, it would be good to do something to let her know you are thinking about her. You can get a lovely card and write something nice to her wishing her a speedy recovery. You can send her flowers -- preferably ones that are not fragrant, in case she has sensitivities around smell.
I would not send her food unless her family says it’s a good idea. When people are undergoing cancer treatment, their eating habits and abilities are often compromised. Whatever you send could go to waste. When you see her family, be sure to ask them to say hello for you. You can also ask them if they need anything.