My next door neighbor passed away last week. He was 88 and had lived a long and meaningful life. He was only next to us for a few years but I learned much from this great man.
Fred's bride of 68 years is the sweetest woman you would every meet. A delightful smile, quick to hug, and always cheerful. I can see why a man would love her so much and for so long. Francis also has dementia and most every time we met it was at if we had never met before. The cool part is this meeting with her was always with the joy of meeting a new friend.
Francis "Now remind me who you are again?"
Fred--"Why honey, this is David. He is the young man that lives next door to us"
Not long after this a hug and a hello would follow from Francis.
Throughout any conversation with Francis there were many repeated questions. Each time Fred would lovingly and patiently answer the question as if it were the first time in his life he had been asked. I am sure that when alone most of their conversations were very much like my little time with them. Imagine how many times Fred had to answer the same inquiry. I have no doubt every response was just as full of love as I saw in person.
In this simple gesture, I learned what it really means to love someone not just during the boundless start of life's journey but all the way to the joyful end.
Love is not just about the firsts. It is about the in-betweens and the ends as well.
Thank you Fred for this lesson and thank you for being my neighbor. I will never forget the lesson you taught me through the example you lived.