I have a crush on my octogenarian neighbor. He sits in a lawn chair outside his garage quite a bit, and is always quick with a smile and a wave when I walk by with the dogs. He’s also the guy who told me that he was cleaning up his yard because his grandson was coming, and he didn’t want the young man to think that his ol’ grandpa was getting soft.
See? Crush. Deep crush.
I hadn’t seen Cute Neighbor Man for a while, and I started to worry. But then I started seeing him driving past with his wife at the wheel. They would both wave, and I would wave in return, resisting the urge to throw myself in front of their vehicle and demand to know what was going on.
We are neighbors, maybe six houses away. I don’t even know their names. But we smile and wave and exchange pleasantries. I certainly don’t know them well enough to ask if everything is OK.
Recently, Cute Neighbor Man resumed his post in the driveway, this time with a walker and his wife by his side. Her hair is the most beautiful color of silver. And the walker seemed an unwelcome interloper.
The dogs and I walked by. We smiled and waved. It felt like such an invasion to ask about the walker and compression hose, so we chatted about a neighbor’s remodeling project. I was talking about new windows, but what I really meant was, “You are brave and amazing.”
A few days ago, the dogs and I walked by as Cute Neighbor Man was making his way down the driveway, aided by a cane. His wife was by his side, ready to grab her love should he falter.
Although they were just doing a little physical therapy in the cool morning air, I felt as though I had stumbled into a very intimate, private moment. It was a scene of trust and dedication and true partnership.
And then there was pride. Cute Neighbor Man was clearly embarrassed to be seen at a weak moment. Big Doodle trotted towards him, and my neighbor said, “I know, you say, ‘Why’s that guy walking so funny?'” He smiled.
I looked down at my huge dog with the hot mess haircut from his medical adventures, the lanky pup with a funny gait from having basically no hip sockets left. I smiled. “You know,” I said, “It’s fine, because he’s walking funny, too.”
I was talking about my dog, but what I was really saying was, “We all have our moments. We’re all delicate. It’s OK.”
And we all laughed, and I took my dogs on down the street. Not because I didn’t want to cheer on these lovely, good people, but because I was an interloper. They were in the thick of Marriage.
We celebrate youth and weddings. But I can’t help but think we’re missing the boat. We should celebrate the mate who drives you to your colonoscopy and doesn’t make fun of you too much. Or the spouse that gracefully supports a venture that may or may not be crazy because their love is in love with it. There should be marriage merit badges, and ceremonies and parties for reaching certain milestones.
But it’s all so intimate. I’m guessing my neighbors wouldn’t want that kind of attention. But I just might make my husband a sash and some badges. It seems appropriate.