We wanted a reason to remain outdoors.
Soft light, sandwiched between dusk and dark, flattered our aging neighborhood.
Cool air swirled through cottonwood leaves and rogue hollyhocks, nudging away summer heat.
“Janet,” my husband suggested, “let’s take a walk to see how that remodeling job’s going.”
We flip-flopped along old sidewalks, cracked and uplifted like ice floes, to our destination where we joined a small group of neighbors and dog-walkers in front of a modest home being transformed for its young family.
We were happy the renovation didn’t disturb the elderly trees hovering over the lot.
We admired the skillful blending of the addition with the existing home and debated colors for the new siding.
A neighbor lad commented to her shame-faced husband, “You know, Ted, we could remodel if you’d quit buying snow machines.”
After issuing our stamp of approval to the home’s new look, we waved goodbye and sauntered home. Welcome to Craig, where neighbors notice.
The first definition for neighbor in my battered 1964 dictionary is "a person who lives near another."
The broader, second definition — "fellow man, as in love your fellow man" — is more apt for Craig, because it allows us to monitor more people.
I decided I wanted to grow old in this inquisitive community when one of its watchful members gave my father a needed assist.
My dad, 90, visited my husband and me in 1999.
One morning we went to work before Dad got out of bed, so I left breakfast food for him on the counter.
The phone rang as I was leaving, and I took time to jot directions to a house where I had a meeting that night.
When Dad wandered into the kitchen, awake and hungry, he overlooked the food, but saw my scribbled directions sitting on top of the microwave.
“Hmm,” he thought. “Janet must think I’d like breakfast at this place.”
He donned his favorite garage-sale cowboy hat and left.
He walked west instead of east at the end of the driveway, so he didn’t end up in a residential area looking for a non-existent restaurant. Instead, miraculously, my directions, “one block, turn left, two blocks, turn right, straight ahead, white siding,” led him to a small, white cafe.
Full of food and high spirits, Dad decided to take a stroll around town on his way home.
Twenty minutes later, he came to a park.
Realizing he didn’t know where he was, he decided a nap might be helpful.
He snoozed on the grass with his hat shading his face for some time, then sat up.
The rest cure had failed.
He was still lost.
He then felt an elderly parent’s common concern — fearing he’d be a bother to his child.
Later that morning, I received a call from a mail carrier: “Mrs. Sheridan, I just wanted to tell you that walking my route earlier today, I noticed an elderly gentleman sitting on the grass in the Breeze Park and went to see if he needed help. A great old guy, he told me he was visiting the Sheridans, went out for a walk, couldn’t find his way back, and would like to get home on his own without bothering you. So I directed him to your house, then stood on the corner and watched until he turned into your place and got in the door. Hope that’s OK.”
Without hesitating, knowing it was against regulations for a post office employee to reveal the address of a resident, taking in the age and pride of the gentleman before him, this kind person made a Craig decision.
Small towns, peopled with neighbors who know your business, are to be prized, praised, and lived in for a long time.
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