Thursday, September 22, 2011

A Good Neighbor is Hard to Find...

Generations ago I believe your next door neighbor was as close as family. These days, you're lucky if you even know your next door neighbor's name - first, because people just aren't that nice anymore and second, because people don't stay in one place that long. But, I was lucky. I grew up in a house sandwiched between two sets of great neighbors. On the left was the boy my age who lived with his father and grandparents who were ultra sweet. He and I played tag and soccer, rode our bikes together, and climbed the tree in his front yard. Then, there was the precious older couple on the right...the couple in the red house. 

I adored that couple growing up. I would walk over to Mary & Charlie's  house to visit and Miss Mary would feed me fig newtons. I rode my bike down their long driveway (sprained my wrist once there too) daily. I ate Miss Mary's cooking, played with their grandkids, watched Charlie tinker with his RC Airplanes or other projects, and just go over to visit and chat. Mary passed away 6 years ago when I was a senior in high school. That was tough. For years I had watched the two of them walk their dog together down the street almost every night and all of the sudden, it was just him. Fifty-five years of love and marriage with those two and suddenly, his sweet wife was taken to be with the Lord. But then on Saturday, the other half of that legacy left this life too. I choose not to go into the details of Charlie's passing because it's not my place but this past week has been rough, especially on my mom who still lives next to the red house. My husband and I went up last night so we could be at the service today. When we pulled into the driveway and I looked at that red house that holds so many childhood memories, I broke down. Hubby held me as I let it out before we went inside. I had to be strong for my mom as she was already struggling. 

Charlie lived a long life of 84 years. For 55 years of it, he had the love of a magnificent woman. He loved the Lord, loved his children and grandchildren, and was a GOOD neighbor...truly good, in every sense of the word. He was always there to lend a hand, to help out. He was a true servant and will be truly missed. You don't find neighbors like that anymore. You just don't. I'm going to miss seeing him out on his front porch swing, the swing that his kids told my mom she could have, the swing he built, the swing that he and Mary used to sit on in the backyard that he later installed in the front, the one thing that holds sentimental value to my mom. 

I don't think I'll ever be able to look at the red house the same, knowing he's not there. But I will tell you this...whoever has their mansion in Heaven next to him, is a very lucky one indeed...because in this life - a good neighbor is just hard to find.