I mentioned in passing a few months ago that a severe windstorm had blown down a portion of our fence.

We share common fence with 6 neighbors, so everytime there’s a mini-disaster, we get together with the involved neighbor and hope that a fair and equitable deal can be worked out and that the neighbor will actually want to fix the fence without any coaxing on our part. We’ve never had a problem with any of our neighbors in this regard and Bill and I were talking about how lucky we felt to be part of this neighborhood.

Anyway, this time the part of our fence that gave up the ghost was a part that’s been standing unmolested for 18 years; consequently we had never met the neighbor attached to that part of the fence. To our delight, we became acquainted with Bob, a French man who has been our neighbor the whole time we’ve lived here and we had no idea who he was. A tall, large boned, blue-eyed fellow in his 60’s, Bob arrived at our front door one weekend and offered to build the fence back himself if we would pay for half of the materials cost. We agreed to this and offered to pay for his labor as well, but Bob would have none of it.

“I have a lot of time to kill so I don’t mind doing it” he said in his delightful French accent. He subsequently said that he wasn’t married, but since he also mentioned having children, I can only deduce that he is a widower living alone. I began to feel a little sorry for Bob and wanted to “adopt” him. I invited him over to have dinner with us. He thanked me effusively, but refused. He refuses to accept gifts of wine, gift cards, or being taken out for dinner as a thank you for his fence construction efforts. I became mildly frustrated until I realized that I was feeling bad for myself – I wanted to do something for this nice fellow and he did not want me to. At this point I realized that it became about me – I wanted to do something nice for him, but it was not something he wanted.

And besides, who am I to feel sorry for him? We cannot assume that just because someone lives alone that they are unhappy. Though my motives were pure, I made a judgment that was not necessarily true.

So as the final fence posts are set in place, I realize that I will probably never see Bob again until the fence blows down again, which is unlikely in his lifetime. I regret not getting to know him better.

Sometimes you can only give by not giving.



Filed under Life

12 responses to “Bob

  1. Isn’t it sad we don’t know the good people ‘on the other side of the fence.’ Life puts good people in our path and we seem to either miss or neglect them.

  2. I am the guy in my neighbourhood who mows the lawn in his underpants….so everybody knows me.

  3. Sonja (jackalope) says:

    Bice – I agree. It also seems like so many people just want their own peace and tranquility and get it by being solitary. I am a bit like this myself, but we miss out on a lot when we are this way.

    Shaymus – But of course, you have more freedom of movement (lol) when you cut the grass this way. I guess you’re known as a real “swinger” in your neighborhood!!

  4. If you want, you can adopt me πŸ™‚

  5. Well done for spotting what a lot of people wouldnt!

  6. So true about giving…I lived alone and I was not lonely at all. I loved it. My parents would call and worry but little did they know I had a ton of friends to go out with. Giving someone space is good!

  7. How does the song go?

    Do ya balls hang low
    Do they swing to and fro

    can’t remember the rest.

  8. Sonja (jackalope) says:

    Lyndon – Well, I hope you would let us adopt you temporarily if you ever visit California.

    Nicola – I just love people. I seem to have a sense of them and what they are about and enjoy learning about their lives.

    Mrs M – I’m a bit of a loner so I really appreciate my space as well. It’s nice to have buddies to keep you out of your shell.

    Shaymus – Does it go like this?
    We’re mountaineers
    We have no fears
    We give no care for trifles;
    We hang our balls
    On mountain walls
    And shoot them off with rifles.
    And the balls hang low;
    And they rock to and fro.

    (that’s all I remember. I had a childhood friend who used to sing this on occasion.)

  9. Hey, you made an effort. What else can you do? Sounds like how my dad would be if he was a widower.

  10. Maybe you could try borrowing something from him? Sounds like he values his self-reliance. If he has to come over to your place to get his hedge clippers back, maybe you can entice him in for dinner. πŸ™‚

  11. seb

    I really like that last sentence. It goes against what we’d like to think…

    And sometimes people, no matter how nice, are better left alone because it’s the way they would like things. But at least you tried!

  12. So his accent comes over as, Eye av a lot of tyme too keel zo Ah doan mahn doeen it.
    and then you say, Tu as beaucoup de temps, alors il ne te derange pas pour le faire.

    Also you say, Merci beaucoup M Robert, ca me fait heureuse.

    Happy talking!!

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