"You know our good neighbor is moving away," G. told me one day last summer when I took over a letter of hers that was mistakenly delivered to my house. "I know," I said sadly. She was referring to our across the street neighbor, whom we all called by his nickname, Bud, but whom she always referred to as "my good neighbor."
It was a fitting moniker - he was the man who brought in our trash cans if they blew into the street, collected the mail or watered the flowers when we were on vacation, supplied us all with bounty from his magnificent vegetable garden throughout the harvest season. He was particularly good to G., a widow in her 80's who lives in a big four bedroom house on 1/2 acre of land. He did everything for her ~ from replacing light bulbs to clearing snow to putting gas in her car every Friday.
"I just don't know what I'll do without him," she said with a small shake of her head.
We all feel that way, for he was a man of remarkable goodness and generosity. Oh, he had his prejudices, similar ones to many people of his generation. But deep down, he believed in the golden rule, and he lived it to the hilt.
From his easy chair in the living room he had a direct line of vision to my house. "When are you gonna slow down a little, doll?" he'd say, after watching me go in and out of the driveway six times a day. He was always the one to call me if a package was on the porch, or if I'd forgotten to close the garage door. From the day I moved in here as a new bride, almost 34 years ago, he was like my benevolent protector, one I called upon many times.
But now he's gone, packed up his own 55 years of memories in that house and moved his wife and aging Basset Hound south of here to Ohio, where he'll be within a stone's throw of his two daughters and his grandchildren. "We need to be near our kids now, " he said wisely. "We're gonna need people to help us pretty soon, and I don't want to have to call on the neighbors to do it."
Isn't that ironic? Even in the end, he was being a good neighbor.
So now we're waiting for our new neighbor to arrive - a young man in his late 20's will soon be moving in. Maybe I"ll bake some cookies for him, take some treats for his dog. Offer to pick up his mail if he's going to be away. A young man all alone like that might be in need of a good neighbor. I can be one I suppose - I certainly had a good teacher.