I am not really a very accommodating neighbor. With the demands of my work and life as a single parent, I hardly have the time to have some chit chat with my neighbors. I could be polite but to a certain degree. Sad to say but lack of sleep and a stressful working environment can really drive me off the wall when combined by my demanding kids and financial problems.
My kids and I had been renting a small room where it was accessible to their school and to my work. We had been living there for more than three years and had not much friends due to the nature of my job. But that all had changed when we found a neighbor who was good enough to be our friend.
Jim was a seafarer who just arrived from the country due to an accident. He broke his foot very badly and was told to return home to recover. It was his wife and sister in law who had been renting the place and they did not have any kids. And since I am loaded with children with six in my wing, some do tend to stray away especially my youngest son Red who was speech delayed and has autism.
Without me knowing it Red had become a welcomed visitor in their place. There were days I would find my son comfortably sharing a meal with them where Jim have him seat on his lap. There were also instances that Red get to join him in his hammock. I do understand why my son look forward at being his side. Red misses his dad or the presence of having a father at his side. A sad fact that I had long learn to accept.
Because of the affection my son had for Jim, that somehow lowered my walls. I started talking to him telling him about my struggles as a single parent. On the other hand Jim told me about his. I then found out he had a daughter who recently died of cancer and was still mourning for her early death. I also learned how humble the man was considering he had travelled around the world due to his work.
As the months went on, Red and Jim started to bond like father and son. At times he will buy him gifts like a teddy bear or a pair of slippers. When Red had a playing accident and his head needed to be stitched, Jim was there for us. There was even a time that he checked on the kids often especially when Red was sick and had to monitor if it was time to take his medicine. I had to admit we all felt safe having him around.
One day Jim broke the news that his wife was pregnant. All of us especially him could never been happier. Perhaps it was a way of giving him and his wife another chance after loosing their daughter from her untimely death. I on the other hand thought it as a blessing for being kind to my son and to my other kids as well.
Because of the unreasonable increase of our rental fee every year, Jim and his wife together with his sister in law decided to look for another place to stay. I have to admit I was a bit worried for my son due to the friendship that developed between them. Good thing Red was able to cope up when they moved out. Still I could not help but feel a pang of sadness every time he knocked at Jim's door thinking he were still there. So I just told him that his friend already left and tried my best to make him understand he had left for good.
It had been years when Jim visited Red. He was spending his vacation in the country at that time and was kind enough to drop by at my place. Since he left me his mobile phone number, I try to get in touch with him during special days like Father's Day and the holidays. Sometimes he would text and ask about his best friend Red, wondering if he would still remember him when he grows old.
It was very rare meeting a total stranger who accepted my kid's uniqueness and disabilities. Red may have been speech delayed but somehow Jim 's understanding of him went beyond words. His ability to share himself inspite of what he had lost had touched me and my kids in so many ways. Though our connection was short lived, the good memories he left us will always be treasured and remembered. A neighbor, who was truly heaven sent .