Our driveways were directly across the street from each other. And if Mr. Buddy’s garage door was up, he was outside and my sons would trot across the street in our subdivision to say hello.
When they were toddlers and preschoolers, I accompanied them, listening as they jibber jabbered and Mr. Buddy gave them his full attention – as if nothing else mattered. The thing is – it didn’t. To him, those childhood conversations were an ingredient in his day and part of his routine.
The best part, though, was that before they left to return home, Mr. Buddy always asked them a question to which they always responded with an enthusiastic, “YES!”
“Do you want a sticker?” he’d say after hearing toddler tales.
And then, they’d beam as he held a sheet of stickers before them letting them select one. Sometimes they’d put the stickers on their shirts. Other times on their faces or siblings. But the main point was that they had seen Mr. Buddy and gotten their stickers.
During a period of two years, nine babies arrived: Jared, Matthew, Daniel, Benjamin, Chelsea, Samantha, Crystal, Amanda and Leah – all born to families near us and all sticker recipients from Mr. Buddy.
As years passed and school began, the boys and others routinely visited Mr. Buddy after school or in the early evening, always keeping watch for the garage door signal. It was comforting to have a grandfatherly neighbor. Even during elementary years, the visits and the stickers were a neighborhood staple.
The kids especially enjoyed it when they were finally old enough to hop into the bed of Mr. Buddy’s pick up – all sitting there yakking away as they conducted their eye-to-eye summits – telling him about school, friends and about their favorite classes such as lunch and PE.
They blabbed – endlessly.
And then there was Halloween. Trick-or-treating door-to-door was still commonplace and safe. After making their rounds and getting their loot, the kids always made sure to stop by Mr. Buddy’s. There they found Mr. Buddy and his wife, Kay, manning trick-or-treat patrol, sitting in their lawn chairs in the driveway. Everyone wanted their treat – raisins. And they sat there chatting it up and adding a healthy spin to the holiday.
The couple is even fond of telling about one Halloween when a young lady who’d grown up there was back for a visit. She dropped by Mr. Buddy and Miss Kay’s – to claim her snack sized box of raisins!
My life is full of rich memories like these and I was especially reminded about them earlier this week when our two sons – now 17 and 18 – accompanied my husband and I to make our annual trip to see Mr. Buddy and Miss Kay. Buddy enjoys weekly golf outings and whenever my husband can get him tickets for a local professional tournament, we deliver them and catch up on neighborhood news. After my husband gave Buddy the tickets, our oldest son leaned toward Kay, giving her an invitation for both of them to attend his graduation party.
As we caught up on each other’s lives, we laughed, told stories and recalled the stickers and the raisins.
“We really hit the jackpot tonight,” Kay mentioned, motioning toward the tickets and invitation.
No, Miss Kay.
I think it’s the other way around. We really hit the jackpot years ago when you started sharing your lives with us, listening to our children and being there.
Just wondering: Do you have someone in your life who played an important role by doing something simple like listening? Add your story!