Cute Chicks

A little over nine years ago, Matthew and I bought our very first house. It is the same house that we live in today. We’ve spent a lot of time renovating this home of ours and I cannot see us uprooting our family any time soon.

We live in an area that I affectionately refer to as “The Sticks”. We’re a ten minute drive behind the small town where our kids go to school and where we go to church and where the majority of our friends live. We refer to it as “Town”. As in, “We’re going into town”. Quaint, yes, and also sometimes a pain in the arse. Mainly because I’m tired of people making comments about how we live “so far from town”. It’s ten minutes, people. TEN MINUTES.

Our home is situated on three acres that back onto Crown (government) land which we use to garden, to play and to house chickens, a dog and a cat. We have neighbors on either side, and down the road, but I am the first to admit that maybe we could be better neighbors. We keep saying that we should make the effort to get to know them better, to have them for dinner or over for coffee, and then six months have gone by and we haven’t done a single thing to remedy this. Let’s just heap that onto my never ending guilt and carry on.

We have not been totally remiss in our neighborly duties. The neighbors to the south of us are ones that we’ve had an pretty neat relationship with ever since we moved in. John and Doris and their once-upon-a-time dog, Duke.

John is eighty-eight (EIGHTY-EIGHT) and spends his days puttering on his own acreage. He’ll often wander over to give gardening advice to Matthew or just to see what’s going on. We bring them Christmas baking every Christmas Eve and sit in John’s den while the kids admire all of his carvings and stuffed animals. Matthew will help John with anything he needs: setting up/taking down the pool used for fire prevention, dealing with a truck that has broken down, firing the paint gun at wild animals that cause chaos on our properties.

John is gruff and tough and also, a BIG OLD SOFTIE.

The way his eyes light up around our kids, ever since Graham was a newborn, shows his true heart. He may be an outdoors man who smokes a pipe and barks out his words but his eyes show his true spirit. He adores all three of my kids and chuckles whenever he can make out what they are saying despite his poor hearing. He adored Sir Duke, who passed last year.  He adores his fair Doris, even though he would give her a (good-natured) hard time most every day.

Things have changed for John recently. Doris has been fighting throat cancer and has been discharged into their daughter’s care. Upon finding this out, we invited him to join us for dinner this past Saturday. He showed up on Friday, and while it may have been a result of his weakened memory, it did not matter. We sat him down at the table with a beer and a plate full of pizza and had a conversation that still gives me (good) shivers.

He came back on Saturday, wine in hand, and we continued on where we had left off. He told the kids stories from when he was an anti-aircraft gunman in WWII. He talked about the fishing resort he once owned. When Graham asked, “So what was the war actually about?”, John explained it in a way that all three kids understood why there was a war and why the soldiers went to fight. He lived history and hearing his stories left me riveted.

I found out that his wife had married a Moran (my maiden name) who died in the war. Moran was her surname when she met him. Wow. Just, wow.

He hugged me when he arrived, he hugged me mid-visit and he hugged me when he left. I see many more hugs between us in the near future. And many more dinners, for the record.

His beloved is on her way out and I cannot even fathom that. He cannot fathom that, even though eighty-eight is a “reasonable” age to go. He has the same questions and doubts that I would have if Matthew were to have cancer right now. “Why her?” “Why me?” “Did I do something wrong to make this happen?” “Is God mad at me?”

I don’t have a lot of answers, but I do have a lot of love. I’m going to love on him as much as he can handle.

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Comments:

  1. Hilary August 31, 2010 3:56 am edit

    That is so sweet, he is a lucky man. I have a similar situation with one of my former neighbors. They are in their late 70’s, and recently moved to the next town over. When they were in the process of selling their house, my husband & I “adopted” them. We made them dinner almost every night, when their own kids were too “busy”. The husband has deteriorated very quickly, and his mind / memory are barely there. It is so sad for us to see him this way, and for his wife, but we still make sure to still cook them dinner several times a month. Love so matters!
    .-= Hilary´s last blog ..If you try and don’t succeed- try- try again…or just give up! =-.

  2. Robin August 31, 2010 4:48 am edit

    We recently moved to what I call ‘the sticks’ as well. It’s really only 30 miles outside of the big city and about 6 miles ‘to town’ for us but people complain ALL THE TIME about how far out we live. Nevermind that they waste countless hours and drive way more than 30 miles daily just running around the city trying to get here and there. We moved for a better school district for our kids and people just can’t seem to wrap their heads around the fact that THAT is what is important to us. The drive is long, yes, but the quiet and serene surroundings are priceless. I heard sirens the other day and it was ODD. Love It!! When we do come come to the ‘city’, which is not ‘town’ we cannot wait to get out of the gridlock and back to the country roads. I’ll take my chances with wildlife running out in front of the car than panhandling crazies any day :)

    Love the story about your neighbor. That’s sweet :)

  3. C @ Kid Things August 31, 2010 7:10 am edit

    He sounds like a wonderful guy. I had a John, too, growing up. His wife was my babysitter for awhile, and then she sadly passed on. We looked after him for awhile, I’d ride my bike up the street to his house to check on him, play in his yard, watch TV with him with the volume turned way up because he had a hard time hearing. He decided to move closer to his family, though, and I don’t know what happened to him since. It’s been a number of years now, I’d be surprised if he were still alive.
    .-= C @ Kid Things´s last blog ..Absolutely Nothing =-.

  4. Sizzle August 31, 2010 8:04 am edit

    That is truly so sweet. You’re good people to be neighborly like that! I think too often we isolate ourselves from those around us and it makes me sad. And don’t get me started on aging and losing a spouse and loneliness. That just cracks my heart in two.
    .-= Sizzle´s last blog ..Cohabitational =-.

  5. Ashley August 31, 2010 8:05 am edit

    Personally I think the whole death thing is one of those things I’d like to say to God, “You suck, this sucks, I need a reason, thankyouverymuch!”. Not that God really sucks but the idea of losing someone I love, or someone else losing someone they love is baffling to me. It’s never just, they’ve never easy and it’s never really explained. I know He is a just God and that He loves us as infinately as we love our kids so He has to have a reason, I just wish He could tell us (loud and clear) what it is.

    I’m glad you had a nice visit and that you’re getting a chance to form a bond with what sounds like a sweet mand.
    .-= Ashley´s last blog ..Its like fingernails on a chalkboard- only its purple =-.

  6. Kristabella August 31, 2010 9:27 am edit

    That is so sweet! I’m sure that has been exactly what he has needed during his tough time.
    .-= Kristabella´s last blog ..Busy- Busy- Busy =-.

  7. Rebecca August 31, 2010 10:35 am edit

    Having lost my very special neighbour and dear friend last January (at on 54 yrs old) to cancer, I know what it is to love a neighbour and walk them through that. This really does make me cry and it’s precious to know the love you have the chance to show him and his wife! :)
    .-= Rebecca´s last blog ..A Date With A Prince =-.

  8. Kerri Anne August 31, 2010 11:00 am edit

    I totally want to hug John right now. And you, too.
    .-= Kerri Anne´s last blog ..Where Am I Going- Where Have I Been =-.

  9. Simon August 31, 2010 11:17 am edit
  10. Danica August 31, 2010 2:37 pm edit

    How touching. What a sweetie. Thanks for sharing this with all of us.
    .-= Danica´s last blog ..Sunday Evening Post =-.

  11. Laura Radniecki August 31, 2010 5:54 pm edit

    Oh my. I can hardly see to type through tears.

    I can only imagine how much your family’s company means to John. I am so glad he lives near a family that will stop their busy lives and give him their attention, instead of a family too busy to care.

    He owned a fishing resort?? COOL!! You know my thoughts on that. :) 1.5 yrs till Matt has his business degree, and then we can seriously consider it. In the mean time, praying…

    Thanks for sharing this. While I’m heartbroken that his wife is nearing the end of her life, I’m thankful for you guys and the gifts you’re giving him, and also that he is sharing his wordly knowledge with your kids and with you and Matthew.
    .-= Laura Radniecki´s last blog ..3 Words to Describe My Brand =-.

  12. Mrs. Wilson August 31, 2010 6:48 pm edit

    Ten minutes is NOTHING! It flew by when I drove to your place. :)

    I’m glad you have such cool neighbors! I’ve never gotten to know mine, but I always knew the neighbors growing up. But then, I’m a lot more grumpy and antisocial now. They’re better off this way!!
    .-= Mrs. Wilson´s last blog ..no boys allowed =-.

  13. Melissa August 31, 2010 6:50 pm edit

    My heart hurts just thinking about how John must be feeling as he loses his love to cancer. He is lucky to have such wonderful neighbors as you and you are lucky to have him too.

  14. Kami's Khlopchyk August 31, 2010 9:09 pm edit

    And that is why I love you, because you are so full of love! You go girl! Things like this, they are what matter the most. Your kindness is a gift and in return, as you noted, you all get so much back.

    LOVE this post.
    .-= Kami’s Khlopchyk´s last blog ..Why It Is Good to Be Me =-.

  15. hillary August 31, 2010 9:31 pm edit

    you are such good peeps :)

    the Morans have to stick together!
    .-= hillary´s last blog ..Get On Your Dancing Shoes You Sexy Little Swine =-.

  16. Cousin Teresa in Ontario September 1, 2010 1:03 am edit

    Big old tears here.
    I am so glad your able to share your love with your neighbour.
    He sounds like an incredibly interesting man.
    I am sad that he is loosing his love Doris but happy he has your love to share.

  17. methodpam September 1, 2010 10:36 am edit

    Oh boy. Your story reminds me a bit of the song by Natalie Merchant – Beloved Wife. I can’t hear this song without tears. My heart goes out to John. He is lucky to have you and your family for neighbors.

  18. Meg September 1, 2010 5:57 pm edit

    You guys are lucky to have such a man as a neighbour, and he’s lucky to have you guys!
    .-= Meg´s last blog ..Doing enough =-.

  19. JenniferW September 4, 2010 8:11 pm edit

    Great, you made me tear up at work. I need some reminders like this every now and then. Just… thanks :)

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