Last Saturday morning...The Farmer and I drove to a neighboring town...45 minutes away for a very special event. This little town had qualified for a new chapel! There was going to be a special ceremony and ground breaking. As I was getting ready to go, I began to think about my neighbors...an older couple...who we have lived next too for nearly twenty years. They were a "fixture" in this community. They left during the holidays to be with their kids...and because of health issues...they have not come home. So Saturday morning...I was wishing that they would come back...I was thinking about how I missed them. We drove to the little town...and as the group of people began to gather...a man came to me and put his arm around me and told me that his father had just passed away...just a couple of hours before this event was to begin...his father...was my neighbor. It caught me so off guard that I burst into tears! I knew his health was bad...I knew that he was miserable...and I knew that he now needed the help of his children to care for himself...and he didn't like that...he was a proud man. But...how I wished he could come home for just one more visit.
He wasn't always an easy man...in fact he had the reputation of being quite a difficult man. When I told the Missionary Boy that he had passed away...he said that he wished he had more good memories of our neighbor. But he did remember one. A few years ago The Missionary Boy's horses were pretty sick and he was very worried about them. He wanted the horses close by so he could watch them closely. The neighbor had a barn and horse stalls right next to our house...that he hadn't used for years. So The Missionary Boy gathered all the courage he had and approached the neighbor, asking if he might use the stalls while his horses were getting better. Without hesitation the neighbor said yes! The Missionary Boy couldn't believe it!! And oh how grateful he was for this favor. Some afternoons when The Missionary Boy was caring for the horses...the neighbor would visit him in the horse stalls and tell him that his horses were nice...and try to make conversation. I think it was his way of letting The Missionary Boy know that he felt bad for the years he hadn't been so nice.
And I think that The Missionary Boy understood.
The past few years...The Farmer and I have tried to take a little more time for the neighbors. Seeing that they needed a little extra help...we began sending meals to them...which gave The Darlings more opportunity to interact with them. And that has been a really good thing. Some evenings, when we took dinner in, we stayed and visited about anything and everything. One thing he did say just before he left to be with his family...was that he really wanted to return to the mountains...Colonia Pacheco. It was a place he loved. When he left for the holidays...The Farmer
said..."that is the last time you will see Don Chato...." and he was right.
Although some of our years as neighbors were a little tough...the last few have been very sweet. I am grateful for that. I am pretty sure that he was in the neighborhood last Saturday morning for one last visit...before he went on to greater things. I think that was why he was on my mind. I will miss that neighbor of mine...I will miss watching him drive into our shared driveway...pause...and as my dogs would chase and bark at him...he would get them as close as possible to his truck and then he would quickly open his door to hit them;) I watched it every morning for many years!
Those dogs knew better than to mess with him!!
That little memory makes me smile!