This post is a departure from the usual, so please bear with me.
I learned this afternoon of the passing of a person with whom I didn’t have much in common.
He was of a different generation. He didn’t believe in a worldview that makes most sense to me. He bothered me usually when I preferred not to be bothered. He smoked like a proverbial chimney. A couple of times, he was downright pesky — once even almost ruining a special time with a few, choice rambling words about my kids’ new barking puppy.
On the other hand, he loved his family more than anything, and I can relate. His wonderful wife and grandchildren and great-grandkids were the ones who sparked the most joy when he would chatter on about them. He was passionate about taking good care of his home and yard and community. His eyes twinkled when he gossiped. He cared.
He didn’t know it, but we affectionately called him “the mayor” — he liked to be in charge.
He took pleasure in teaching lessons, and I would sometimes oblige him. But not enough to his liking, I’m sure. After all, I’m not a spring chicken; I do know a thing or two by now.
So he couldn’t help me with some of the things he wanted to help me with. It would have made him feel better to help me more, I’m sure, but that wasn’t in his cards.
I would try to guide him politely, telling him I appreciated his input, but I made sure to gently add that it was time for him to go forth, enjoy the fruits of his labor and all that he had worked for. He didn’t need to waste his time worrying about helping me.
I liked this man, my neighbor. I liked knowing he was there. I liked joking about just how early his leaf blower would start in the morning. I liked hearing Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy wafting from his windows in the spring and summer. I liked seeing his light on late into the fall and winter nights.
When I knew that Sen. Reid was dying last year of pancreatic cancer (which my mom also passed away from in 2015), I brought up a controversial thought from my neighbor in a July 2021 conversation with the former Senator Majority Leader, hoping for some insight — for myself and for the country:
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