As I pried off the unflattering plate rail from the top of our kitchen cabinets this week (don’t worry, Dad, I got it all off without breaking it, and I saved it for you), I found myself standing on an old, rickety, red, wood-and-metal combo stepstool. It’s somewhat uneven, since it’s missing one of its plastic foot things, but it works okay on the linoleum. Apart from its rickety charm and the fact that it collapses nicely into a small awkward space beside the cabinets that’s good for little else, I like this stepstool because our neighbors in Texas gave it to us.
Among many things.
When we bought our house in Texas, we met our neighbors pretty quickly. The very next day, in fact, our neighbor Pat left her business card while we were at church, and when I called to thank her for stopping by, she brought us over half of a pie. (She also told me she was very pleased to hear that we had been at church.)
We soon met an elderly couple who lived on the other side of our house, Mr. and Mrs. Friar. We never did see their name written down, and J always spelled it “Fryer” and I always spelled it “Friar,” so who knows. I’m using their real names because it adds charm to the story and you could never track them down even if you tried.
Mr. and Mrs. Friar were sweet neighbors seriously in need of someone to talk to. I will confess that there were times, in fact, that we drove around the block instead of pulling in our driveway if we saw Mr. Friar out pulling in his garbage can because we knew we didn’t have time for an hour repast of meandering conversation. (I said it was a confession: don’t judge.)
The Friars were their home’s original owners, and Mr. Friar liked to tell us stories about all of the owners of our home, that is, his previous neighbors. Most of them he did not approve of, so we were flattered that the Friars took a liking to us. We would take them cookies or other small gifts at Christmas, J got a call a few times to go over and help when Mrs. Friar had fallen or they needed assistance with something, and Mr. Friar would come out and talk to us if we were trimming the hedge or gardening out front. We learned that if we asked how he was, we would hear a long list of health problems, but we tried to be as encouraging as we could.
The one time we locked ourselves out and had to break in to our house and were making a LOT of noise in the dark out back, including snapping off a screen frame and shattering a plastic stool I had been balancing on, well, they didn’t hear any of that. So they weren’t the best burglar deterrents, but that’s okay.
The point of this blog post is that the Friars liked to give stuff away. Our basement is full of practical lawn care and gardening equipment we got from the Friars, and lots of random tools, nails, screws, etc. As we’ve been working on the house, occasionally J will pull out some random little gadget and I’ll compliment his handiness while marveling at the gadget, and I find out it came from Mr. Friar.
Thank you, Mr. Friar, wherever you are.
And thanks for the old stepstool. It has really come in handy.