When I moved into my condo, I'm not sure why, but my neighbor, Mark, decided he would take me under his wing. It took me awhile to realize what was happening. He was an old curmudgeon-type person with his nose in everyone else's business. But it was a kind nose. He meant good. I was glad, especially when I'd leave my car lights on, or slept-in on the morning they were tarring my parking lot. He spent some time banging on the door to wake me and tell me, gruffly, that I'd better move or my car would to towed. I have another wing-man at these condos. He saw Mark telling me to move, they have a small rivalry, and he told me to put my car into the garage. Mark, thankfully, informed me that if I put the car in the garage, I'd be stranded for a couple days while the tar 'cooked.' I moved it to a nearby parking lot.
Yesterday, I was told Mark passed away. His sister found him on the floor of his condo. They think it was a massive heart attack.
I've only been here four years, but Mark was a fixture in the neighborhood, walking his dog, Pugsley, and waving to folks as they passed by. He'd offer my Pippin a treat now and again. There were people who didn't see around the gruff exterior. They didn't know his heart and his kindnesses. Some told me they were 'relieved' that he was gone. That he'd been such a busy-body.
But he wasn't. He was a true neighbor. He didn't try to tell me how to live my life or how to raise my granddaughter or what to wear for the weather. He did offer hints on how to get Pippin to stop pooping in my house.
To get back to Mark... they put his dog down. Nobody wanted him, supposedly. My heart broke. I would have taken him or given him to my daughter. She knows how to care for dogs. She liked Mark, too. He'd show her photos of his 'hippie' days and they'd laugh.
I suppose I started to write this to complain about the other neighbor's reactions to Mark's death, but what I really want to say is - I will miss him. I will miss his shy smile. I will miss the comfort of taking Pippin out, late at night, for 'his' duty and not feeling afraid because Mark was around. He perused the neighborhood nightly, with Pugsley, and I knew he would be there for me, if necessary. He was there for others, too, and most of them didn't know it. Taking the older people to doctor's appointments and such. A good man.
I cherish the fact that he knew I was a friend.
Thanks for listening.