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My heart is heavy this morning.

I discovered that a dear friend died last week. It’s strange to say she was dear and to admit that she’s been gone a week before I knew about it.

But value isn’t determined by proximity.

The value of this piece is priceless

I met Rebecca when I was fifteen. She taught with my mother and had recently had a baby. She and Scott needed a babysitter, and my mother suggested me. So, one day my mom took me to their house to meet baby Nash. Nash and I hit it off, and I became the babysitter. Someone would take me to their house when needed and then Scott or Rebecca would bring me home after their evening out. Until I got my license. Ian arrived later, and I kept both boys.

Often, when Scott and Rebecca came home, we would visit for a while before I went home. They were confidants for me during a troubled time when my parents divorced. When I went off to college, Rebecca would call me to see if I could come home to keep the boys. I always did. And when I was home on breaks, I visited with them. I spent hours with them. I would go to the lake with them. They knew everything about my young adulthood. They were a second family to me.

When I bought my first house, Rebecca gave me a housewarming gift of pottery. I still have it.

Rebecca was kind and giving. Her compassion and listening to me was never taken for granted. I felt understood by her through those teenage angst years, and it was comforting to have an adult to turn to who wasn’t blood. I didn’t feel as if I was betraying anyone when I talked with Rebecca.

I was still keeping the boys when I started teaching.

Then, life. The boys didn’t need me anymore. I got busy with my career. We touched base every so often though. They even took me and Steven out to dinner early in our relationship. I think they approved of him.

Photo by Lucas Pezeta on Pexels.com Rebecca loved flamingos. I hope she’s surrounded by a flock.

Last year Steven and I decided we needed to have some legal work done. I reached out to Scott. It was then I learned that Rebecca had brain cancer. . .the same that took my grandma.

The news I found this morning wasn’t a surprise. I’ve been waiting for it. But it still was a gut punch.

For Christmas this past year, I wrote cards to many of the people who influenced or are currently influencing my life. I wanted them to know the impact they have on my life and to thank them. Scott and Rebecca were on that list and I’m so grateful I was given the opportunity to let her know how much she means to me.

Don’t waste your opportunities. Tomorrow isn’t promised.

Overdue Ode

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When I was twenty-two, I bought a house.  My dad chuckled at the elderly gentleman next door as he watched us move me in.  Daddy said he was trying to decide what kind of trouble I was going to bring to his peaceful neighborhood.

Mr. Campbell was in his sixties when I moved into my little house.  He eyed me warily for some time.  I think what broke the stand-off was when my little kitten disappeared, and I knocked on his door asking if he’d seen Jack.  He hadn’t, but he came out of his house to help me look for him.  Told me about how his daughter loved kittens too.  Then, as reassurance I suppose, he told me he didn’t think he was dead because we would smell him.

From there, we developed an easy, if tentative, relationship with each other.  I’m not sure Mr. Campbell knows how much I admired him.  I regret that I didn’t make sure he did.  When I moved next door, he couldn’t read.  I’ll never forget the pride and sparkle in his eyes when he told me that he’d reached the fourth grade level.

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I looked for a picture of my house, but this is all I have on the computer.  It was in the last year of living next door to Mr. Campbell, and though his health was failing, you can see he still had a small garden close to his persimmon tree.

He had a deadly aim with his shot-gun.  Killed a groundhog, or something in that family, from his back door that was eating his greens.  But what was most important to him was coming next door to let me know that had the shot been too close to my dog, Daisy, who was in her lot, he wouldn’t have taken it.  Then, like a little boy, he asked me to come see his kill and pointed out the green teeth of the collard thief.

Collards. Peppers. Cabbage. Squash. Tomatoes. Eggplant. Green beans. Broccoli. You name it, he grew it.  It took a while for him to offer his bounty to me. My favorite was when he asked if I liked collards.  I said, yes sir! Especially how my grandma cooked them.  He walked over to the collard patch, yanked up the whole plant, and handed it to me.  I’m sure he was amused at my face as I stood there holding the plant, roots dropping dirt at my feet.  He chuckled, told me how to clean them, then said, “You call your grandma to find out how to cook ’em.”

And that’s what I did.  They were good.  Not hers, but good.

Mr. Campbell never came into my house, and I never went into his.  But we looked out for each other.  I’d lived there for about fifteen years when I put a sign for my church in my front yard.  He walked over to make sure it wasn’t a “For Sale” sign.  That’s when he told me.

“I couldn’t ask for a better neighbor, Miss Season.”

I couldn’t either, Mr. Campbell.

Mr. Campbell died not long after Steven and I got married.  It made moving not quite as difficult.

We didn’t have a fence, but I was lucky to have good neighbor.