Who is your neighbor?
To my shame, despite living in our home for nearly five years, it has only been in the last few months that I’ve gotten to know our neighbors, Tom and Dody.
While my husband had gotten to know them over the past few years while cutting the front yard, I had always been too busy to meet them.
Well, a few months ago, one early evening in the spring, I was about to go inside and make dinner, but I happened to notice our neighbor’s garage door open and decided to walk over and introduce myself.
It was that day that I met Tom and Dody. Tom is a highly-decorated military veteran, recipient of five Purple Hearts and a Silver Star, and who reminds me of why I admire our Armed forces so much.
Dody is a delightful, white-haired fox, who, at the time, couldn’t come outside because she was doing her hair. Since then, I have gotten to know this warm and vibrant person that just makes you smile when you think of her.
Not too long after meeting Tom and Dody, my husband and I learned that Dody had to go into the hospital, and that doctors suspected she might have a life-threatening condition. Having been together for decades, Tom seemed to take the news the hardest.
As he described how everything occurred, and their next steps, I could see a man filled with love and devotion for his bride, yet gripped by fear and concern.
I felt that I was looking at a strong, valiant, and honorable man about to face one of the most fearful things of his life: the possible loss of the love of his life.
My husband and I committed to truly pray for Dody that day, and Tom expressed his gratitude for our prayers, and I could see in his eyes that he meant it.
During these past few months our relationship with Tom and Dody has also grown. I love to hear the stories about their younger years, the pride they have in their children and grandchildren, and the few stories that I am able to glean about Tom’s time in the military, which Tom doesn’t share, but Dody does.
It is neighbors like Tom and Dody that remind me of why our country is so special. They make you feel right at home, and after talking with them you know have been enriched.
And while they are not the celebrities you see on TV, and most people reading this article may not know their names, I feel privileged to know them and am honored whenever we get a chance to chat.
Thankfully, Dody’s condition wasn’t life-threatening, but she has suffered complications from the ordeal. Today, she recovers at their home, and Tom remains by her side.
I am reminded that men like Tom, whose actions are far more impressive than mere words, are increasingly rare these days. And women like Dody who would make you feel comfortable, rather than complain when you ask, “How are you?” are also rare.
Together, I marvel at their devotion to each other and realize that such marriages don’t just happen because two people “fall in love.” They are grown and nurtured over the years through times of joys and trials, challenges and pain. Theirs is a marriage that I hope my husband and I will have when we become their age.
To this day, I believe it was God that led me to walk over to my neighbors’ garage that day. And rather than watch my Wheel of Fortune neighbors, Pat and Vanna, I got a chance to meet and spend time with Tom and Dody, true gems of Fayette County.
I can’t help but wonder how much more fulfilled and connected our lives would be if we stepped outside of our homes and got to know at least one of our neighbors. I imagine our lives, community, and country would be a lot different and for the better. I know my life is.
[Bonnie B. Willis is co-founder of The Willis Group, LLC, a Learning, Development, and Life Coaching company here in Fayette County and lives in Fayetteville along with her husband and their five children.]