I have lived in my house on this street for the past 35 years. The first 5 with a wife along with a horse and several dogs and cats. The last 30 years spent alone with the same horse and dogs and cats and then various other animals as they each passed over the Rainbow Bridge. My wife too, had moved on to pastures new. Somehow, even though in my past life, I liked the ladies, I never married again preferring the single life and the company of my pets deeming that after three attempts, marriage and I did not get along. I found the pets to be less demanding and more compromising although, I have to admit, there were some aspects of life that they could not help nor satisfy.
I did my thing which primarily involved working at UT as a Manager of Planning and Scheduling for 22 years and soccer both coaching and playing, refereeing and administrating until I had knee replacement surgery at the age of 70 which pretty much ended my involvement in the game. That is except for watching the English Premier League on the television which I do as often as the games are shown. My last major hobby was building and then maintaining up to 5 different ponds in my backyard that contain some very big Koi.
With the exception of the neighbors next door and across the street, I never really met or knew anyone else keeping to myself as I did. That all changed when I started walking the two latest of the many dogs that have shared my life in the past. Now Sandy, the little girl demands that we walk every afternoon and any other time if it were possible so Mikey, the other little boy dog and I, kind of go along just to keep her quiet. Actually, that is not really true as I like to walk and enjoy our outings as we usually cover a couple of miles of the neighborhood. During that time, I have got to meet some wonderful people and prior to Covid, would stop and chat with them. They probably told me their names but for the life of me, nowadays, I just can’t remember who they might be. I can remember the names of kids from my childhood but not what I had for breakfast. Stupid brain. It seems that they all know mine. Even the kids call me Frank. After Covid impacted our lives, we still hold conversations sometimes with a mask and always at a distance. Some of the peole are my favorites which include the two older hispanic ladies and their little Shit Zhu puppy. I do know their names as I got them to put it on my phone, Josie and Mary Lou. We stop and talk from a distance and Sandy tries to play with their little dog who is a little afraid of her as she is only a puppy. These two wonderful ladies stopped by several times with food for me even before the storm. There are several others, some who have RV’s which is a mutual interest, others have dogs and some just like to stop and talk.
Last week, we had the deep freeze which has blanketed most of Texas as I wrote about in several previous blogs which resulted in us not only having power outages affecting many people in many areas but also the complete loss of water. I was one of the lucky ones and lost water after several days but had power the entire time. That, coupled with the frozen roads creating very hazardous driving conditions, meant that the little Ford Echo that I currently have as a loaner while my 4 wheel drive truck is in the shop, was not capable of handling these driving conditions.
Normally, this would not be a problem because usually in Texas, snow and ice is an overnight thing not usually lasting more than a day or two. This cold front has been with us for nearly two weeks with both day and night time temperatures staying below freezing, something that has not happened in most people’s lifetimes before. That, along with the 6 inches of snow is what has created this very hazardous situation. The good hearted neighbors rallied to the cause and started knocking on my door or calling and texting me, bringing me food, steaming hot on a paper plate or like many others, stopping by to check on me to see if I was OK. Others called or texted to ask if I needed anything as they were going to make a trip to the store and then substituting similar products for those that I had asked for and were unavailable. Others shared what they had bought for themselves just to make sure that I was OK. Not a single one would accept payment even when I asked. I cannot say enough to show my gratitude and have absolutely no way that I can repay their kindness. I’m sure that these wonderful people are not treating me any different than the other neighbors that live on our street, each having the ones that they call upon but it does make me feel very humble and very special. It’s been a long time for that sort of caring. I talked to some of them who I recognised from our walks. I learned that Michael repairs RV’s, something I may need in the future and that Tanya, who has a beautiful British accent, is married to an American, has been here for a while and has a couple of kids, and that Chris and Claire with whom we both moved in to the neighborhood around the same time, are just plain wonderful and caring human beings. I get calls from others just to check up on me and to make sure that I am OK and feel very humble at the amount of goodwill coming my way. Maybe it’s because I have been single for 30 years and have lost the skills required in sharing with others. Whatever it is, I am extremely grateful to have such caring neighbors knowing that there is no way that I can ever repay them. This part of me will feel very sad when I eventually sell the house and move on.
Today, it is starting to thaw and the temperature is already in the high 30’s. It may freeze for one more night and in a couple more days, all of this will be a bad memory and one for the history books. But I will have good memories of how my neighbors rallied around those of us they thought might be in need and am both humbled and very grateful.
As a side note, I know that I am old at 85 but didn’t think I was decrepit. My memory may not be what it once was but its not that bad. I certainly am not poor and destitute and can well afford the cost of life and much more. I sure hope that I don’t give any of those impressions as that will hurt my ego. Just kidding, I am truly grateful.