For the last thirty years, I have had the most wonderful neighbour. He has never complained about anything my family did and he has never given me cause for complaint. I commented on his patience with neighbours, many years ago, and he said, "Dogs die and kids move away. Why get upset about things that aren't permanent?".
Chuck is a quiet, shy man. After my divorce, he would slip over to my yard and trim the shrubs that had become unruly and clip back the heritage, climbing rose that straddled our fence. He never said a word about it and was embarrassed if I thanked him. When his wife lost her battle with cancer, he made sure his daughters called me so I would know why the ambulance was there and not be wondering. I had free reign to tap into his hydro if I needed to run power tools at the back of my yard and his shed was open should I need a tree lopper, extension ladder or lawn roller. He was simply a good neighbour.
Unfortunately, time has taken it's toll on him and he could not keep up his home anymore. His worn out knees couldn't manage the stairs and a fall left him with limited use of one shoulder. He, now, had to ask me to help him. I was happy to pay back all of his kindness, but I know it bothered him.
He sold his property and moved to a senior apartment. When the house was being cleared out, his daughters asked if they could pay me to put a few items in my dumpster. I watched these girls grow up and we are very comfortable with each other. Of course, I told them that was fine and that they were to tell their dad he was insulting me by offering to pay. He had paid many times over with cucumbers passed over the fence and bags of corn from the family farm.
They held a yard sale to get rid of the extra items from the house. The daughters did not want to negotiate with me so I did my dickering with the 10 yr old grandson. I made my purchase for the grand total of $2 and the child showed me a beautiful (his words) rhinestone brooch. He had wanted to buy it for his beloved teacher but for some reason wasn't allowed to. I bought the brooch and whispered in his ear to help me back to my house with my purchases. I handed him the brooch and told him to put it in his pocket and not mention it. I'm awful like that with kids!
A few minutes later, Grandson was back with money in his hands. I thought he had been caught with the brooch, but no, it was the money I had paid for all my purchases. He said, "Grandpa says we're not to take any money from Maureen".
I had to fight back tears when Chuck left his property for the last time. I do have the most wonderful thing to remember him by.
What I bought was a vintage, blue willow child's tea set. I'll have tea parties with my granddaughters and we'll always drink a toast to good neighbours! ~
For the story behind the pattern on Blue Willow dishes click here.