One of my favorite people in the world is turning four next month. He is our neighbor and one of my little guy’s best friends. He cracks me up. He is full of energy and life and I just love him.
I have watched him grow from a newborn to a fellow who says, “Let’s play ‘Ready Set Go.'” Then you say those three words and he revs his “engine” and takes off. Bless him, I wish I had that energy. Even just five minutes a day would be good.
Within our little corner of the world here, we have a street full of young’uns ranging from three to eight in this group that plays together. Their birthdays fall throughout the year, so it seems like there is always a birthday coming up for one of the children. As you might imagine, they have their fair share of–ahem–discussions as well. My almost four-year old friend came up with what I believe may be the greatest indication of where you stand with him. One of the children did something to frustrate him, and he told his Mama, “She’s off my birfday wist.” It doesn’t get much more serious than that folks. He is for real.
But grace abounds. You can right a wrong and he’ll put you back on his list. Which is good. Seeing as how his birthday is next month, I’m trying to be careful and not take any chances.
Two nights ago we were out back in our ground up tree stump pile. (Yes, that’s what it is, doesn’t everyone have one?) Our friend likes to dig in it with the shovel my Daddy got our Princess for digging years ago. He was digging for all he was worth–I think he might be digging me a pool, and I’m really quite pleased. He would toss the dirt behind him. On one toss he threw dirt all over his brother’s shirt. The next one he threw dirt all in the Princess’ hair. All was well because they knew he didn’t mean to. I really don’t think they forgave him because of his upcoming festivities, but then again, you never know. As his sweet Mama was gathering her two to head home, I took the shovel and dug a little out, almost without thought. Sure enough, my little bit of dirt flew onto my friend’s shoes. Oh dear. He was NOT happy. At all. Fearfully, I said, “Am I still on your birthday list?” He frowned and folded his arms across his chest and shook his head. I’ve got to tell you, I was just about devastated. As they started heading home, I followed behind him and told him he could play again the next morning. He laughed, and when I asked, I was BACK ON the birthday list. Huge sigh of relief.
My friend and his precious brother, both my guy’s best friends, are moving. Such is the life of the military family. Saying goodbyes, packing up, moving. My heart is breaking. Our children have had their own Roxaboxen out here. I have loved this family and been loved by them. I will miss the way my little guy and their older son, both two when they moved in, prefer to ride the other’s Big Wheels. Every single time. I’ll miss their games of good guy bad guy, when the little brother, my friend, runs after them with his siren blaring. The three boys love to aggravate our Princess and her friend, and five minutes later they are all sitting together in my front yard playing “Duck Duck Goose.” They all call my three by our family nicknames, which is so precious to me. Their Daddy is the one who replaced the tire on our Princess’ bike when our Daddy was serving overseas. Another time he was the one who helped us figure out what to do with the lethargic little chipmunk who found his way into our garage. (We returned him to the woods where he is scampering playfully to this day–disagree and you’re not on my birfday list anymore.) Their Mama and I have had so many late afternoon visits standing in her front yard or mine, sitting on her back porch or my front one. When I got the call from Mama to come say goodbye to my Daddy nineteen months ago, she knew because she saw me leave my house so early and she KNOWS me. When Mama went in for her HospitalStay, my sweet neighbor friend cooked a huge meal (actually several in one) for all of us, even remembering my Aub’s and my sister’s special food allergies. And when our washing machine went out and we had no way to wash our clothes for Mama’s funeral, she was the one who said, “Bring them over here. I got this.” And she did. Washed, dried, and hung up ready to go. Neighbors and dear friends like that don’t come around very often. I will miss her sweet spirit that she shares so generously.
When our neighbors moved in four years ago, one of the first things we noticed was a pineapple on their mailbox. Pineapples represent hospitality, and this is one family that embodies that a thousandfold. A week ago, I came home and the pineapple was on our mailbox. We are only keeping it until this sweet family returns to our neighborhood in a few years. But it was at that moment that the tears started flowing and the loss became real for me.
Change and goodbyes, you are not on my birfday list. And I don’t think you will be back on it anytime soon.