A good neighbor will always be missed

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Andy Sauer

Andy Sauer

Let me tell you about Dan.

A while back, I had a home improvement plan before the historic commission. The commission said they’d get back to me. Weeks went by, and I still hadn’t heard from them, and I was getting nervous. Then, I got a letter bearing the town seal that said my proposal had been rejected. I felt my face flush with anger. Further, the letter stated, if I cared to resubmit the proposal, it would be helpful if I incorporated Yankee pinstripes to the design. I exhaled in a combination of relief and mortification. Dan, that unapologetic New York fan who lived across the street, had pranked me. And, it wouldn’t be the last time.

Well, now, Dan’s taking his hijinks to The Sunshine State. After nearly 10 years, he and his family have moved to Florida. It’s sad to see a good neighbor move. I mean I’m happy for them, as they are literally moving to greener pastures, but they’re going to be missed.

You get to know people pretty well when you live across the street from them. You get used to the sound of kids playing basketball. You call when things seem amiss. You pick up on the routines, and they help you stick to yours. Whenever Dan mowed the lawn, it was like a kick in the pants for me to mow, though I never let him know that.

And, while we weren’t tight friends – the kind you hang out with on a regular basis, we were great neighbors.

Once, the schools had an early release that I completely forgot about. My daughter got off the bus, and no one was home. It was snowing, and Dan’s wife, Christy, welcomed my daughter inside to keep warm. She called me, and I raced home. In accepting my gratitude and apologies, she was gracious and equanimous. That’s what neighbors do, she said.

There was a time when neighbors were neighbors for life. They would mark the communal milestones over the course of a lifetime — holidays, kids, graduations, snowstorms, weddings, major events — all the things that connect a community. Times, as we know, change. Americans are more transient now — they go to where the work is. And, we trim some of the extra niceties to shave a minute or two in an already very busy day, which is what makes it all the more special when someone does observe the traditional courtesies of being a good neighbor.

You’ll find that you miss those things when they’ve moved somewhere else.

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