Our next door neighbor, Art, died a few weeks ago. He was 93 years young. He was also the best neighbor we’ve ever had, which is saying a lot.

Rob and I have moved multiple times for multiple reasons, usually having to do with work. We’ve had neighbors who we never saw, neighbors who wouldn’t speak to us, neighbors who called in complaints about the length of our grass, neighbors who threatened to sue us because our children supposedly messed up their car’s paint job, and lots of neighbors who didn’t cause us personal grief but had enough drama in their lives that the police were frequent flyers at their homes. We have also had cordial neighbors who waved and said hello as they walked by.

Art was special because after he asked once if we would like some vegetables from his bounteous garden, he proceeded to leave food on our doorstep all garden season long. He also helped us get a side of beef from his connections with cattle ranchers. On top of feeding us, he also loved yard work, which came in handy in the fall when the leaves were falling. I’d never had help raking up the massive leaf piles in our yard before. For him, it was it was an opportunity to get out of the house and to breathe fresh air. He raked a lot of the yards on our block. Art was such a part of our neighborhood that the last few years we all celebrated his July birthday in his front yard with a potluck and birthday cake.

At Art’s funeral services several of us from the neighborhood sat together in the pew, representing our block. I’ve never done that before, either. We were a Jehovah’s Witness, a Mormon, a Catholic, an Evangelical and a few who don’t go to church, all sitting together in a Southern Baptist church, stumbling through the hymns of fire and brimstone and sinning and redemption in Christ.
Art was a born-again Christian and he was happy to talk about how he was ready to meet his Maker whenever the Lord saw fit to take him because he had been saved and Jesus had forgiven his sins. I was happy he was at peace with the idea of dying and thankfully for him, the time between being diagnosed with cancer and his passing was very short.

All of us in the neighborhood will miss Art , his fresh fruit and vegetables and his can-do friendly attitude towards all. I hope when I am 93 years old, I am just like him. I want to be the Mormon who brought together a neighborhood of diversity and made our time together something to celebrate.