Each morning, for the past 12 years, I have pulled back three sets of curtains from my bedroom windows, and have looked across at the garden that Wayne and Debbie built.
I’ve watched as they’ve tended it, from one season to the next. We’ve waved to each other as we leave our driveways. I’ve witnessed the changing seasons unfold in front of me with colorful explosions of native plants and flowers. I have taken pictures in their bluebonnets. I have walked my daughters and grandson through the flowers and pointed to butterflies, bees, ladybugs and a whimsical Sea Monster.
A tree that blooms in my backyard is a part of one of their trees. We watched over each other’s houses while the other was away. An ornamental ant guards my rose bushes… a gift from them after returning from a trip.
We picked up pieces of their mailbox, a bench and parts of a car after their mailbox was hit (one of SO many on our street!)
We exchanged emails and the secret spice for world famous chili (okay, not so much exchanged as “they gave us”, and I have no idea if it was secret, and maybe it wasn’t world famous, but it definitely won some awards in competition!) still lives in a special box in my freezer.
They were our first neighborhood friends, and helped me organize a block party to meet the neighbors. The turnout wasn’t stellar (it seems civilians don’t do meet-and-greets the same way military folks do), but we had an amazing time all the same. Wayne kept Chelsea (then age 7) entertained. They ate ice cream together and he taught her how to spit watermelon seeds.
We watched as he would grow his beard long (a la Gabby Hays), and Chels thought maybe Santa lived across the street. Over the last few years, Debbie continued to tend that garden alone after Wayne became ill. But there would still be occasional sightings of him, moving slower and using a walker, but still in his garden… waving as we passed.
Wayne left this earth yesterday. My heart goes out to Debbie and their family. He will be missed, but he will be remembered… every time I open my bedroom curtains.