Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Neighborhood Story

Several years ago, an older single lady lived up the street from us.   She was a firecracker.  She'd been a bail bondsman, she wasn't afraid to tell you what was on her mind, and there was a young woman inside that body, breathing supplemental oxygen through a tube, that had never lost its drive, and there was some frustration and a bit of associated grumpiness apparent in her.

Every now and then she'd need some help with something, and I and/or a couple of other men in the neighborhood would go put this up or move that piece of furniture or reach something for her.  She was always talkative and appreciative.

Her health continued to deteriorate.  At one point she got one of those motorized tricycles that older and otherwise mobile impaired people get....

And then something happened.

This older man showed up.   She told us about him.  They had been high school sweethearts who had lost track of each other, married other people, had families, grew old ... and they were both single now.   They got married.

The motor-trike disappeared.  She got off the oxygen. Didn't need it anymore. She could walk around on her own just fine.  She had a new spark in her eye and a spring in her step.  They were often seen holding hands, and sitting on a concrete bench in front of their house, talking to neighbors.  She said she'd never been happier in her life.

We live in a neighborhood with an Association, and rules about paint colors.  But Joy liked yellow, and she fairly defiantly painted the trim on their brown house yellow after installing a bay window in the front.  There were a few grumblings, but I never said anything to them.  Frankly I didn't think it looked that bad.  But a few years later -- she died suddenly.  Heart attack, stroke, I don't remember.

Since then I somehow got wrangled into being on the board of the Association, and a bit later somehow I defaulted to being president when the president resigned.   And I was recently asked why the board has never pushed to have that paint addressed.

The answer is a little complicated ... for one thing it was done before I was on the board and the previous board did nothing about it.  We also have bigger fish to fry -- but the main reason I am reluctant ... is that I know the human story behind it.  These are not my subjects, they're my neighbors.  And to ask Bob to paint over that trim would be like asking him to paint over the memory of Joy, his love.  I just can't bring myself to do it.  It's a little yellow paint.  In the grand scheme of things, I think it means more to him, and frankly to anyone who knew Joy ... than it does to the curmudgeons who want it painted over.  I know they don't like that answer.