Gary came home from the store crying today. He told me that he just found out that our neighbor, Clyde, had died this past Saturday. One of his relatives recognized Gary driving down the street, and stopped his car, to tell him the sad news. We only knew him for about five years, but saw him almost daily, as he walked past our house, to pick up his granddaughter as she walked home from grammer school.
He always smiled and waved at me. If I was outside, he would always tell me to keep smilin', and have a nice day. I couldn't always understand exactly what he was saying, but would shake my head in agreement with him anyway. Sometimes Gary would see him walking to or from the store. It's a good mile or so from our house, so he would give him a lift. Clyde never seemed to mind walking, but he was always grateful for the ride. I even made a U-turn on Briarcliff last summer, swung around, and opened the window. I thought maybe he didn't recognize me with my purple hair, but he knew it was me. He never refused a ride.
Last winter, Gary was worried about him, he hadn't seen Clyde for a few weeks, and asked his granddaughter where he was. She said that he had fallen, and had broken his hip, but was mending. In no time, he was back on his daily walk to the corner.
I think the first time we met, Wolfy, our German shepherd, had escaped, and went charging right up to him barking. Scared him half to death. He just stood there in the street. I assured him that she wouldn't bite him, or attack him. After that, he was always wary, but he knew she was all bark. We would laugh, because she barked at him from inside the house, too.
Today, I went over to his house, and offered my condolences. I think I spoke with his daughter, and her husband. She said that he had cancer, with pneumonia complications. I freaked, when she told me that he was 64. I had assumed that he was well into his 70's. He must have had a hard life. I'll always remember his big grin, his stubbled chin, that little glint in his eye when he spoke. Boy, he knew how to cheer you up on a blue day, with his always-cheerful outlook on life.
It's been over 20 years now, since we moved in. The whole block has changed around us. Some neighbors moved out long ago. I never thought about missing them. Clyde, bless his heart, was just a little part of our lives here on Fleetwood Ave. He's in my prayers tonight. I know he wouldn't want me to cry, but would tell me to just keep on smilin'.