I moved into my home 17 years ago. My neighbors, Mr. and Mrs. D, moved in about the same time. We watched our garden homes being built, we moved in, we shared a drive way and we bonded. That was in 1998. Mr. D passed away while I was on vacation in 2003, but I just happened to make it back in time to say my final goodbyes at his funeral. On Wednesday mornings, trash day, he would always roll my trash can up my driveway to my garage door. Every single week he did this, for the 5 years he was my neighbor.
After he was gone, Mrs. D started rolling my trash can up my driveway to my garage door and I would do the same for her. We both worked, but we helped each other out…for 12 years. Mrs. D passed away this past week. I had just spoken to her a few days before. I can still hear her laughter. She worked until just a couple of months ago. She still drove, still did everything. Her mind was sharp.
She had a special place in her heart for cats. In the 17 years that I’ve known her, she had 7 or 8 cats that she cared for (and loved). But over the last few years, one by one, they didn’t come home. We always talked about what could have happened to them…Cars? Coyotes? The last one didn’t come home about a month ago. She missed her cats. She mentioned to me, about a year ago, she didn’t know what would happen to her cats if something ever happened to her. Somehow, things have a way of working themselves out.
In the evenings, when I drove up my driveway, I could see her lights on. I knew she was there. She had her Christmas lights up on her bushes. It was a festive time. A festive month. It’s almost Christmas.
Now, as I drive up my driveway, the lights are no longer on. There are no cats chasing birds or lizards. Her Christmas lights have been unplugged. It seems so dark over there. But I think of Mr. and Mrs. D. and the light they were in my life. What great neighbors they were. I don’t want new neighbors but I’m sure it will happen. I will never forget Mr. and Mrs. D. I don’t think any other neighbor could quite measure up.
During this Christmas season, I will be thinking of them and their family. They had 7 kids and many grandchildren. It will be especially difficult for them. After all, I’m just the neighbor. But I will miss exchanging Christmas gifts this season, checking each other’s mail when we’re out of town, exchanging good recipes as well as many other things. We really weren’t just neighbors, we were friends.
Never pass up the opportunity to be neighborly. One random act of kindness could last 17 years. Forever. It can touch a soul. It has touched mine.
I will miss you Mrs. D. It is an end of an era.