friendship

Friendship

When my wife and I moved into our neighborhood twelve years ago, Mr. Weems was the first to welcome us with his big, genuine smile.

Bonnie just turned three, Lily was one, and Ben was still a year off. We were far from either of our families, and we had yet to make new friends. Mr. Weems’ children and grandchildren were grown and off, and his wife died unexpectedly the year before. We met at the perfect time.

My kids, and especially my son when he came along, loved Mr. Weems and thought of him as a grandparent, and he was happy to play the part. We were never greeted with anything less than a hearty laugh and, “Come in.”

Mr. Weems grew up on a farm in Ranger, Texas, and then served in WWII. After that, he worked for Texas Electric until he retired. In thirty years, he never called in sick.

Like most men of his generation, he knew how to do everything and always wanted to help. If I had a plumbing, electrical, or carpentry problem, he knew just what I needed to do. I wasn’t afraid to tackle anything with him standing next to me.

“We need to keep your wife happy; that’s the mainest thing,” he’d say.

If either of us had a project, the other was there. We built privacy fences, cleaned chimneys, cut firewood, worked on small engines, built a playhouse, and took on many other tasks, some less successful than others.

We also had good conversations over meals or coffee, and, if I had Shiner Bock, cold beer.

As the kids got older and more involved, we spent less time with Mr. Weems. He was always up for going to a game, band concert, or ballet recital. But there still was less time for the things we used to do as a big family—watching movies or reading books and having meals together.

At 88, Mr. Weems still did all his own work, mowed his lawn, washed his laundry, and took walks. My wife drove him to his eye doctor appointments when his eyes grew dim, but otherwise he was self-sufficient. So, it was a shock to me when my wife told me, between innings of a softball game that I was coaching, that Mr. Weems had a heart attack and was in the hospital.

Over the next month, we spent more time at Mr. Weems’ house than we had the entire year before. I left his room only hours before he left this world. At the funeral, we were invited to sit with the family, where my wife sat with Mr. Weems’ sister and held her hand.

After he was gone, the family asked us to help with Mr. Weems’ estate since they lived away, and we were near. I kept his yard work up, and afterwards I’d sit in his workshop where we’d spent hours together, among all his old wrenches, planter’s peanut cans full of assorted bolts, bits of this and bottles of that, feeling just as I had years ago in my great-grandfather’s shop after he’d died.

Good friends are hard to find and impossible to replace. We know that. Yet we still often take them for granted. I quit making time for Mr. Weems when he was here. He’s been gone for two years now, and I’d sure love to sit and talk with him again over a cold beer.

About Nowhere Tribune

A husband and daddy, striving to love his neighbors and be kind to his pets. I love good food, good beer, and a few good friends. My other interests are hiking, taking walks, lifting weights, reading books by manly authors like Hemingway and Twain, and splitting fire wood with my bare hands.

Discussion

24 thoughts on “Friendship

  1. Stop kicking yourself. This is way more interaction than most people seem to have with their neighbors. Social media seems to have cut into neighborly time. By the way, when did you start your blog?

    Posted by Tippy Gnu | April 8, 2019, 8:29 pm
    • I started blogging the year we moved here. This one in particular came around in 2012. But I rarely work on it when I can be out or with my family.

      Posted by Nowhere Tribune | April 9, 2019, 6:12 am
  2. If only we could have those opportunities again. Right?

    Posted by Sassyfitnesschick | April 8, 2019, 9:27 pm
  3. “Good friends are hard to find and impossible to replace. We know that. Yet we still often take them for granted.”

    That’d look good on a sign and stuck to my fridge with magnets.

    Posted by Steeny Lou | April 9, 2019, 1:59 am
  4. A very nice memory and friendship.

    Posted by Darnell Cureton | April 9, 2019, 4:42 am
  5. How wonderful that must have been for him all those years. Don’t grieve the time you didn’t spend with him, but cherish the memories of those you did.

    Posted by rivergirl1211 | April 9, 2019, 5:27 am
  6. I love this. I can only imagine what a blessing it was to Mr. Weems to spend time with you and your family. Although I know you felt the same way. I’m sure you and your family filled a gap of loneliness in his life exactly when he needed it.

    Posted by Snowbird In Training | April 9, 2019, 11:53 am
  7. Yes we take time for granted. But we never know how long we have left.

    Posted by Julie | April 9, 2019, 12:31 pm
  8. Everything I have to say has already been said, but I don’t think anyone’s told you that’s a great photo.

    Posted by Shayne | April 9, 2019, 1:29 pm
  9. Very nice. Thanks for sharing this story.

    Posted by Ben | April 9, 2019, 10:55 pm
  10. This is very sweet; I’m sure I’m echoing other people, but be sure that you made his time much happier by accepting him in your family. And he’ll live on in you and your kids. I know it sounds sappy, but I strongly believe the people we love never really live – a piece of them always remains in whatever lessons they taught us or the fond memories we have of him. 🙂

    Posted by Jay | April 20, 2019, 4:12 pm
  11. It warms my heart to hear how kind you and your wife were to this elderly man. The world needs more people like you. I am sure his family will be forever grateful.

    Posted by Middle Aged Momma | May 5, 2019, 3:40 pm
  12. A lovely memory of a friendliness getting rarer

    Posted by Zeeshan Amin | May 6, 2019, 5:21 am

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