Our neighbor Howard passed away last night. When I say neighbor, I don't mean the people that you give a quick hi to when you're out walking the dog and otherwise know nothing about. We live in a condo, so aside from not being allowed a dog, it redefines neighbor as literally the person just across the hall from you. Someone that little by little you invite into your life, get to know, and just assume will always be there. Someone who is somehow, part of what you know as "home". That was Howard.
Everyone in our condo complex knew Howard. He turned 90 last December but his jovial nature and easy conversation reflected a much younger spirit. Summers in particular have always been marked by after-work patio conversations about current events, baseball, and sometimes even the nostalgic reflections of the good ol' days - Howard was a Navy man during WWII and pride always shone brightly in his eyes when he talked about his days on an Aircraft Carrier ("You wouldn't believe the size of that thing!"). And he used to grow tomatoes too. Even better than the farmer's market were Howard's patio grown tomatoes that he was always willing to share.
You get so used to someone that it's hard to stop and think that they're no longer in this world.
His wife is doing well and has the support of several children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren around her. She's assured us that Howard is in a better place now, and there is joy in knowing that, but he will be dearly missed.
Rest in peace, and thanks for being a part of our lives.
10 months ago