Joe was the sort of perfect neighbor we might wish everyone around us to be like - quiet, kind, always had a friendly word when we happened to meet at the block mailboxes, and his cute little dog Chuck always had a friendly word, too. Until his retirement, he had been an administrator at the local school district, and decades in a position of authority showed in his persona - calm, affable, and ever gracious, Joe radiated an aura of good-natured strength.
It's possible that, like a lot of other folks, being retired from a lifetime of work seemed to have taken away a sense of direction in Joe's life. For whatever reason, within a relatively short time he went into a decline, both physically and spiritually, and a strong, capable, alert person gradually became someone unsure of how to face life's daily challenges. Recently Joe's house has been empty, and one of the caretakers of the property said he had entered a nursing home in another state, and that Chuck was being cared for by a family member.
There was an estate sale this past sunny and warm weekend; put on by a company with an unfortunately tasteless and tactless name - "Worldly Possessions" - it attracted hordes of tactless and tasteless shoppers. The term grave robbers might be overreaching as far as description, but vultures, hyenas and scavengers may be more to the point. They blocked driveways all over the neighborhood, the engines and air conditioners of their giant pickups and vans still running, some with loud country music blasting out of open windows, and quantities of trash were left behind. Soda bottles, McDonalds wrappers, and cigarette butts littered our street and sidewalks after they had all gone home, clutching their assorted treasures, Joe's worldly possessions, back to their suburbs and country ranchitos.
A storm front coming in overnight brought with it the sort of gentle rain showers we like to see in the valley at this time of year; now, there's no need to get out there and water the lawn and flower beds, and the rain and light breeze have cleaned up the usually stagnant Eugene air. On cool misty days like this, a change occurs with light that alters our perception of color, and the normally green Western Oregon forest we live in seems to be even greener than before. Despite a mild drought, it's been a great spring so far, and soon we'll have a long, fun and warm summer. And here on our street, we're going to miss having a good neighbor like Joe, and I hope wherever he is, he's doing well.