Thursday, August 21, 2014


I didn't know him all that well but he was familiar.
Like the large, old oak tree that once grew in our front yard.
He was deeply present as if rooted in the ground.  Entwined in the branches that stretched out above our small block.
He lived there since the house was built in the 80s.
He'd tell you that.
His skin was a milky white.  The kind that probably never took to the sun very well.  His hair was a silky heather grey which he wore slick back.  His clothes, even the casual ones, were always freshly pressed.  His loafers always impeccably clean. 

Photo by DardaniM
Every morning, I'd spy him outside my window as I made my tea.  Stretching in the middle of the cul de sac and doing push-ups against the curb.  No matter the weather he wore a sweat band and tennis shorts, no doubt showing off his impressive skills for the other retired ladies living on our block.  When I left to go to work, I'd wave to him as he began his run.  He'd smile, wave back and begin his scurry.  His arms moving faster than his legs as he made his journey through the quiet of the morning.
He knew everyone's comings and goings, including ours.  Every afternoon, he'd perch at the top of his stairs and watch.  Knees bent, arms crossed.  His playful blue eyes bouncing from this to that.  The rabbits chomping on the grass in our yards.  The kids riding their bikes.  And the birds flying their quiet journey through the air.  He could have sat on his deck in the back of the house but I think he preferred being a witness.  Being a fixture in the life around him. Greeting the school children as they arrived home.  Slowing the inevitable rush that marks middle age by waiting for a wave or a comment on the weather. 
"Hi, Mr. Jim," My boys would say as they road their bikes and scooters fast by his house.  He'd smile and watch graciously as they showed off a new move or answer intently as they badgered him with questions.
"Do you have a wife?"
"No. Don't want one."
"Do you have a scooter?"
"Are you a Grandpa?"
He was amused by my overprotectiveness. Watching me as I rushed to nurse a sudden boo-boo, or break-up an inevitable dispute between the neighborhood kids about who won at tag or who lost a race. Teasing me about letting the boys "be boys" or siding with my three year old when I told him he was too little to play in the street.
"I'm just messing with ya'," he said waving his hand towards me when I tried to explain.
He was the kind of guy that scolded my mother for looking under the hood of her car when she thought something was wrong.  Me for contemplating fixing the weathered paneling on the side of my house. 
"That's his job," he would say, referencing my husband and gesturing towards my house whether my husband was home or not.  I chuckled because he reminded me of a my grandfather.  He's brand of throw back was a kind I didn't care to disturb.
He had a beautiful 1969 Corvette in his garage. 
"His baby." 
He'd back it out only on the most beautiful days and go for a ride.  He'd pull out of our cul de sac with a small smile on his face.  I imagined him slow riding on I-95, picking up septuagenarian babes and remembering the good old days.

Tuesday evening, we learned he was gone. 
In his bed, I heard.  Suddenly and alone. 
I stood outside with a few of my neighbors looking toward his house.  I  pictured him sitting there watching us.  Amused as we shared tears and stories.  Suddenly filled with gratitude for the bit part we play in each other's lives. 
We've had the most beautiful sunsets since. Filling our quiet streets in strawberry orange.  Making everything in the backdrop glow.  Somehow making his empty stoop look warm and full.
I'd like to think it was his way of remaining present.  Reminding us to be present, too. 
In life.  In all its glorious finite.  For all its quivers and falls. 
I'm glad I was a stop on his journey. 
I'm glad he was a stop on mine.

Love and Light,


  1. Faye, you have a deft touch for the contemplative and reflective in your writing. It is a rare gift. Through your words in my mind like slow rolling film I could see Jim, I could see your street. I could see the interactions and I could see those sunsets.

    Thank you for sharing that gift.

    Today especially I needed a gift as I live thousands of miles away from you yet I am filled with fear at the world you have to live in. A world where the colour of ones skin has a direct correlation to ones life expectancy and how you are judged. How in a country that I didn't always understand but admired the Police are now a military force that appear to be being directed to be used against the citizens that they are supposed to protect. Its like watching one of Arnies bad sci fi movies from the 1980,s. In other parts of the world life is held in such disregard a man can behead another in cold blood and not feel anything. Here in Australia I as a survivor of abuse by Catholic Clergy look on in disbelief at the way the former leader of the Church in Australia adds more hurt to our wounds from the safety of Rome.

    Your words are a gift that I accept gratefully because they remind me of simple goodness.

    Thank You.


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