My neighbor George is getting up there in years. The 19-year-old who mows my lawn (significantly, he does not mow George's lawn) is his great-grandson, and not the oldest one, either. When I first moved up here, George did a lot of heavy work around his house, like, with my blessing, removing the fence between our front yards, which included digging up the concrete footings for the posts and loading the metal and concrete chunks into his truck.
The past year or two he's slowed down. He sold his truck last year. Lately I sometimes see him just standing in his yard, slumped, with his head down. Like he was resting. He goes to the deli for a newspaper every morning, and lately he just sits in the car for a while before starting it, and when he gets back he sits in the car with the door open for a few minutes before getting out and climbing the steps to the yard.
For the past several days I hadn't seen him at all. It's been hot and very humid, so I figured he was just staying in to stay cool.
I've been a bit worried about him.
Late this morning the street filled up with cars, the earliest arrivals were the grandchildren (the whole family lives right around here) and then many more people arrived with covered dishes. Many people. Most were wearing black.
I got a little freaked out.
And then someone arrived and called from the street, "Happy birthday, George!", and George stepped out his front door to wave. I was amused to see he was wearing a bright Hawaiian shirt instead of his usual dark t-shirt or plaid flannel.
Happy birthday, George. Glad you're still having them.