the good neighbor

For nearly twenty years, I have lived in my neighborhood. Our sons and their friends grew up, went to the elementary school two hops (fence) to the west, and went out into the world as adults. My neighbors and I waged a battle with gophers since the time the hillsides were graded for homes. Every Halloween, people come from miles around to Trick or Treat. After Thanksgiving, more come through to look at Christmas lights and decorations our neighbors create.

For two decades I have walked my dogs here, chatted with neighbors about roses, feral cats, and shared misadventures and joys.

Everyone knew the couple in the “Arizona house” – uniquely decorated with tiny mining car, lava rock and succulents . Winter mornings and summer evenings, the Man in the ballcap took walks around the neighborhood. He had already retired -from what I never knew – when we (my dogs then were Happy and Sydney) first met. We would again meet at the election polling place where he and his wife volunteered. When we chatted as I worked in my yard, we would mostly talk about family, the dogs and sometimes politics. He always had a cheery smile, and complimented me on the look of my yard.

I received the news the other day that he passed away this week while out on his habitual walk. As I offered my condolences to the son, it struck me how long had been since last I saw a family gathered at a home in the neighborhood to mourn a longtime resident. You don’t think about kids you watched growing into adults also meaning your neighbors (and yourself) growing older.

Faith tells me that we have to be living according to His teachings to receive Eternal Rest. I cannot know where N stood in that regard. But like that video a few years ago with Brad Paisley and the late Andy Griffith, I presume N is walking the borders of Heaven, with his signature cap, smile and greeting angels as he waits for the love of his life. Perhaps, like Andy in that song, he is patiently “waiting on a woman”.

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