Today I write a goodbye to the Little Old Guy who lived across the street. I don’t know if he’s passed on to the next life or simply moved into a care home or with relatives. His house and driveway are empty, and there’s a bank notice on his door. I last saw him shortly before Thanksgiving. Wherever he’s gone, he shall not return to our neighborhood, and we will miss him.
Although we were never formally introduced, he was a familiar fixture from the day we moved in. He was friendly and terrifying in his giant pickup truck, which he drove quite badly every day. Whenever he drove out, he distributed smiles and waves to everyone. He especially liked kids and people walking or out doing lawn work, though he would also wave at neighbors in cars as well. In past years, when we saw him off our block, my kids would shriek “It’s Little Old Guy!” and wave frantically to him while I prayed that his return wave wouldn’t precipitate a multi-car pile up.
He used to sit on his front porch and wave at passersby as well. In recent years he didn’t porch sit. Perhaps the heat became too much for him. Last summer I became very worried for him. One day his beloved truck was pulled up in front of his house instead of in his driveway. Both its door and his front door were wide open, with no sign of the gentleman. It turned out that he was fine and had simply forgotten something and gone back for it. Another day he temporarily snarled up traffic on a busy road making a completely addled turn into the shopping strip parking lot. These were signs of the beginning of the end. I knew that he would not be among us much longer. He was ancient looking when we moved in ten years ago. It was amazing that he managed to stay in his own home so long.
His house will probably remain empty for some time, as houses in our neighborhood tend to do. Nobody wants to sell Abuelo’s house, and taking on the task of living there is daunting. It will require repairs, remodeling, refurbishment. While we’re a quiet, safe, middle class neighborhood, it’s not a desirable address on the happening side of town. And so there is a hole waiting to be filled in Arcadia.
Bon Voyage, Little Old Guy. It was a pleasure trading smiles and waves and dodging your erratic driving.