Updated: Oct 20, 2020
It ain’t fair and it ain’t for long. That’s one of David's long-standing expressions. He's 79 years old and has been our next-door neighbor for 25 years. Actually David is an optimist and more often greets me from across our yards with a friendly, it’s just another day in paradise or livin' the dream. He's a kind man and I think had a kind father when David told me recently that his father used to say, you can't hurt anyone with words you don't say.
We moved next door to David and his wife, Donna, when our son Colin was 2 and I was pregnant with our daughter, Megan. Our house and our daughter are the same age, 25, but the house has a few months on Megan. With no family in the area, David and Donna, kindly offered to watch Colin when I went into labor. Megan was early, probably the only time in her life, and we had been to dinner with friends. I told my husband, Jim at midnight that I was in labor and called David and Donna. Jim rolled over and David arrived at the front door fully dressed before Jim was out of bed.
Living next to David and Donna, we’ve been thru multiple hurricanes, whose names and numbers are starting to run together since there're been so many. We spent our 10th wedding anniversary feeding peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to our two toddlers in our walk-in closets during Hurricane Bonnie. I saw a kitten cowering under the azalea bush between our yard and David and Donna’s yard and insisted that Jim, who is allergic to cats, rescue the kitten during the middle of the hurricane. Jim dutifully donned my Dad's old XL yellow rain jacket and went out in the storm after the kitten. The kitten fled in fear to ride out the rest of the storm under David and Donna’s screened-in porch. They named the kitten Bonnie and called her that until they discovered 2 years later that she was a he, and renamed the cat, Stormy.
David is very neighborly and when we both had the local paper delivered at the end of our driveways for a long while, David often brought our paper to our front door when picking up his own. Jim occasionally managed to return the favor, which wasn’t easy since David is an early riser. When Jim was successful, David liked to say that he had a doctor deliver his newspaper. David and Donna stopped getting the paper a few months ago and the game was up.
Despite scolding by me and Donna, David still insists on climbing his 12 foot extension ladder and handling the majority of maintenance around his large, lovely home and yard. That mostly works until sometimes it doesn't. Several years ago, Donna came over frantic that David was stuck in a tree. Jim came outside to find David holding on near the top of a tall pine tree, arms and legs wrapped around the trunk, with his ladder down next to the tree. Jim righted the ladder and helped David down. David's version of the story is that he needed a psychiatrist to help him out of a tree.
A few years ago, when David was painting their entire house, a true labor of love after Donna didn't like the last color, David called hello to me from the top of a ladder leaning against the side of the house with a paintbrush in one hand. The cell phone in his pocket rang, so from the top of the ladder, paintbrush in hand, David answered the phone. I waited for him to finish his call and warned him that Donna would not like him doing talking on his cell phone when on the top of a ladder. David said that he had to answer because it was Donna calling!
David and Donna, parents to 3 children and 4 grandchildren, were empty-nesters when we moved in, and now we are too. We're riding out the covid-19 pandemic together with other neighbors in our cul-de-sac, holding regular, outdoor happy hours in the street or on our back deck. Old stories for them, new to us, Donna recently recounted when her daughter's friend was bitten by a copperhead during the party she had for her daughter, Meredith's 8th birthday.
Donna and the party of 8 girls were walking on a hot summer street when Donna saw the snake zip across the road and one of the girls, who was wearing flip flops, said she stepped on a stick. Donna grabbed the child, put her on her back, and ran to her car with the girls screaming and following her. Donna rushed the girl to the hospital and went to the ER with all 8 girls in tow before she was able to reach David for him to join her. The child was treated at the hospital while David and Donna watched the other girls and desperately tried to reach the girl's parents in a pre cell-phone era. Luckily, the small girl had been bitten on the side of her foot so the poison was far from her heart but several anxious hours went by as the doctors iced her swollen leg to keep the poison from reaching her heart. By the time Donna and David reached the child's parents at midnight, she was out of danger but the snake bite made her really sick and Donna remembered the girl missed the first 2 weeks of school. David added, yeah, snakes like to hang out on the hot pavement during the summer. Donna said she heard the girl's father recently died. It ain't fair and it ain't for long.