This I Believe

Courtney - Kansas City, Missouri
Entered on April 16, 2007

My Neighbors, My Family

I believe in neighbors.

Benevolent neighbors may be hard to find. I, on the other hand, am rather fortunate. I’ve been blessed with the most amiable neighbors anyone could ask for: Mr. and Mrs. Purington — Bill and Pauline to be exact.

The Puringtons are somewhere in their early seventies, although, at times they still act as though they are teenagers, charming each other with their puppy love. The two of them were high school sweethearts as well, which proves just how strong their love for one another truly is. Their relationship is the type one may see in a movie: too good to be true.

At times, I feel as though the Puringtons are a part of my family. Each holiday or celebration, my family invites them to spend the day with us. They gossip and converse with everyone. They share stories and tell jokes; it just feels so comfortable with them around. Some days I take them over some kind of dessert or snack. Other days I am welcomed home to the smell of a fresh goodie that Mrs. Purington just pulled out of the oven and brought over. In a way, the Puringtons were like my own grandparents.

Just over a year ago, Mr. Purington was diagnosed with cancer. This took everyone by surprise. How could this happen to someone who has so much to offer? Why couldn’t it be someone else? A murderer? A pedophile? Anyone but Mr. Purington. I was devastated when I heard the news. Distraught. Confused. Angry. My emotions were so mixed up, which left my stomach in knots for days. Each night following the horrific news, I cried. I cried to my parents. I cried to my friends. I even cried myself to sleep, only to learn that dwelling over the situation wasn’t going to solve anything.

Once I settled down from the unexpected news, I decided to spend as much time with Mr. and Mrs. Purington as possible. I would cherish our times together and appreciate each new memory we made. Some days I stop by just to say “hi” or share a good story I heard. Other days I go next-door for dinner and a nice game of Yahtzee–in which I must add, Mr. Purington wins every time. In a way, I feel as though my family and I have kept the Puringtons from growing old.

Just as everyone thought things were going smoothly for Mr. Purington, his health took a turn for the worse. Enervated from cancer, he became extremely ill and weak before passing away in mid August. His death took many by surprise. No one ever thought this day would come. Mr. Purington was supposed to out live us all — at least that’s what we thought.

Mr. Purington, a kind and gentle man, was one of the greatest neighbors anyone could ask for. He blessed my life in numerous ways and taught me that there is a friendship waiting to build in anyone, no matter what age, race, or sex. He taught me to open up to others and speak my word when needed. Mr. Purington was one of the most intelligent men I’ve met. He offered a great deal to his fellow friends and community and spread his cheerfulness around willingly. From the sweet elderly couple living next to me, I have learned a lifetime of information and made a never-ending friendship.