My next door neighbor, Minnie, passed away yesterday.
She was the first neighbor I met when we moved here. Minnie Vaughn was 90. She lived alone.
Her son, Steve — an only child — lived a few blocks away and was with her every day.
She moved to the neighborhood shortly before we did, when her husband passed away.
She never gave me a hard time about my yard (a mess), my house (in need of work), or my kids (sometimes quite lively).
We were friends. Not terribly close, in terms of relationship — but very close in proximity. A foot-high brick wall separates our two yards — both rather small. The view out my office window is her back door.
We talked whenever we were outside at the same time. Our conversations were generally about the weather, or the cats, or perhaps some hair-brained news story that had caught our attention.
She called me one night when there was a bird in her house. It turned out to be a bat. I snagged it with a towel and got it outside.
I have a habit of taking out the trash and recycling very late on Sunday nights. Once, she thought there was a prowler and called the police.
In 2004, I took her to the polls for drive-by voting. She and I shared a belief that the country could do better than George W. Bush.
She fed our cats better than we did. We gave them dry cat food. She cooked them meals. Long ago (well over ten years) they became her cats. In fact, I was a little surprised when Steve told me tonight that they were still alive. I sort of thought there was only one left. We never named those cats. Minnie and Steve did. Mama Cat and Baby Cat.
Minnie was about the last original neighbor left on this street. Besides my family, there’s only one other house on the street that hasn’t changed hands due to death of the residents (or relocation to assisted living). Mrs. Brownlee, three doors down, passed away last week.
This was an older neighborhood when we moved here. Our two children, ages four and two, were the only kids anywhere around. Those who surrounded us: The Purcells, Gillespies, Bosts, Youngs, Mr. Rouzer (Mrs. Rouzer is at Carillon), are all gone now. Just the Dyes and us are left out of the folks who were here in 1986, when we came to Lantz Avenue.
Minnie suffered these past few months. I’m glad that’s over. But I’ll miss her. You could not ask for a more quiet, sweet, easy-going neighbor.