.My next door neighbor Frank died yesterday.
Frank was what we Philadelphians would call a stand-up guy. Not in the mob sense, but in the person you'd want to live next door to sense. He was there, he was reliable, if you needed his help you had it.
Many years ago, when Sean was a little boy, we acquired Shadowfax, a young cat, hardly more than a kitten, who escaped from the house the night before Christmas Eve. We were driving to Pittsburgh for Christmas with Marianne's parents in the morning. And though we combed the neighborhood for blocks around, he was nowhere to be found.
Late that night, as I was loading luggage into the car, I heard Shadow calling for help from the engine of Frank's car, which he'd climbed into, looking for warmth. So I went next door, knocked, and said, "Frank, our cat is in your car's engine. Could you pop the hood?"
Frank got his coat, came out, popped the hood, and there Shadow was, tucked behind the battery in a location where starting the car would have decapitated him.
"Holy cow," Frank said, "there really was a cat in there!"
Which is when I realized that Frank had thought I had gone completely crazy. But had gone along with my madness because, crazy though I might be, I was still a neighbor.
That's the kind of man Frank was. And now he's gone.
God bless you, Frank. Rest in peace. The neighborhood is a poorer place for your absence.