You would have loved my neighbor, Peter.
We met when he and his wife bought the lot next to ours and began building their dream house. I have to admit I was not happy about having what was a lovely wildflower meadow turned into a big, modern house. I stewed and steamed at the inconveniences and noise of construction, but finally gave up and went over to make peace. I'm glad I did, as I found Peter and Doreen to be really sweet and good neighbors. We allowed them to get their electricity from our house during construction, a small favor which has been repaid many times over.
He was a helpful man - quietly fixing my rickety wooden steps without telling me, hiring the team that mows our hillside so we won't have fires, making a friendly little sign for our street that said, "Time To Slow Down," so the kids and pets on the alley would be safe.
He was a handsome man, and I have to admit that running into him each week was not a hardship; I've always enjoyed that. Even when he lost his hair to chemo, it didn't diminish his good looks. He was always well dressed - even his work shirts were pressed. A meticulous and lovely man.
He was a generous man - he adopted a stray cat and kept a box of dog biscuits for all the neighborhood hounds. He volunteered as president of the neighborhood council and gave freely of his spare time to make our town an even more enjoyable community.
While he was ill, we couldn't visit much, as he was undergoing preparations for a bone marrow transplant after two rounds of chemo couldn't vanquish his cancer, but I would cook or bake extra and take it over to them, leaving my goodies on the back porch and taping a sign to the window to say, "Peter, we send love." His response, sent via email was this photo of him enjoying my offerings and holding a little sign saying, "Mmmm-Mmmm!"
Once he was out of the hospital, we visited more, keeping him company while Doreen took a break or did the marketing. He was sleeping peacefully the last time I saw him, after we had some belly laughs watching Mel Brooks' irreverent "Blazing Saddles" on their TV.
I left home yesterday for a few hours and, hearing the normal house sounds from next door, I thought all was well, but he slipped quietly away during the afternoon. Doreen called us this morning with the news.
Typing through tears is the pits so I'll just say, Bon Voyage, Peter, and godspeed. Everyone who knew you will miss you greatly.