He was a World War II veteran; she was a little English lady that still drank tea in the afternoons while she nibbled English muffins. They met while he was stationed overseas, and married before he finished his tour of duty. They had four children, a strong faith, and a good life. He loved wood working, she loved poetry. They were my husband Sam's neighbors, long before they became my neighbors; but they accepted me right away and our son, Matthew, became like one of their own grandkids.
He had to call on me quite a bit as he and his wife got older, and I know he didn't like to have to do that. But we were neighbors, we were friends and we lived just across the street from one another, so it only seemed the natural thing to do. Matthew was just little at the time and I have to admit that there were times interruptions could be difficult, as I was homeschooling him. But I never told them no; and now all these years later, I am so thankful that I didn't. It is bad enough living with the guilt that I wasn't always cheerful about helping them. I never let them see that though.
I remember one day in particular, Mr. B. was apologizing for having to call us once again. I could see it really bothered him. He was so independent and they both had done so much for other people throughout their life, it was hard for them now - especially Mr. B. - to have to ask for help. Anyway, as he stood there on the porch and I started to walk away, he gave me another apologetic thank you. I quickly responded, "Are you kidding, Mr. B? This is the least we could do for you, after all you have done for us." He looked a bit surprised, so I continued. "Remember all those times you brought your snow blower over and made sure our driveway was cleared of snow; and all those times you watched out for us when Sam was out of town?" I will never forget his response. His head went up, his chest went out and he stood a little taller with a big smile on his face. "Oh, that wasn't anything," he replied. But I could tell a thank you from me and reminder of what he had done for us, was exactly what he needed to hear that day. It made him just a little bit stronger once again - made the burden of now requiring help, just a little bit lighter.
That was such a lesson to me. We all just need to be needed. We all need to be appreciated every once in a while. I remember for years I had a sign on my refrigerator with a quote by Arthur Gorden that said: " 'Compassion' - Why wanting it so much for ourselves do we so often deprive it to others?" Don't know. But what I do know: neighbors like these two, are few and far between.
They gave my son a wonderful understanding of what a "neighbor" should be. They praised him and taught him and gave him gifts. Mrs. B. made us morning muffins and brought them to us warm, wrapped with love. She sometimes shared secrets and she sometimes shared poems. Mr. B. shared history and knowledge and strength. They both shared their life; they both shared their love.
I love them and I miss them.