A toast to the heroes next door

It’s easy to recognize a hero, especially today. They walk tall in pressed uniforms and shiny shoes. They volunteer for hard tasks and run toward things we avoid. Last night, we had dinner with a guy like that, an army veteran and quiet recipient of a bronze star and an oak leaf cluster.
Our next-door neighbor Doug doesn’t speak much about his days as a member of General Patton’s army. Instead, he conducts his life with the quiet dignity extolled by so many members of his generation.
At 88-years old, he remains constantly busy. He keeps his house and yard immaculate and works very hard to make sure the grass is greener on the other side of the fence as well, which is nice for us because we live on the other side of his fence.
Doug and his stylish wife Janet, with whom he recently celebrated a 60th wedding anniversary, intimidate us with their never-a-complaint nor-a-hair-out-of-place way of life. Their days begin early and, by proximity, ours do too.
Let other people snooze in on snow days. Here in our neighborhood, we rise with the Octogenarians.
For many years, whatever the season, mornings would begin with a whir indicating Doug had yanked out his snow blower, lawn blower or leaf blower and gone to work. In the darkness I’d open one eye, gauge the sound waves and then yank the covers off the guy sleeping next to me.
“Vince, get up!” I’d yell. “Doug is blowing us out again.”
Pride compelled us to get up then and go out to help him.
During one particularly nasty blizzard when Vince was out of town, Molly and I hauled ourselves outside to clear our driveway. Pelting snow stung my eyes as I looked over and saw them, Janet in a cute matching pink coat, hat and gloves and Doug with a jaunty cap pulled over his forehead.
“For the love of God,” I yelled. “Go inside before you hurt yourself. We’ll take care of the sidewalk.”
They laughed and continued on their merry way.
We have so much to be grateful for today — a free country and the brave people who help us keep it that way, a holiday that gives us an opportunity to thank them, and a couple of neighbors like Doug and Janet.

Molly poses between our neighbors Janet and Doug, neither of
whom looks a day over 60.
In a time honored family tradition, Molly brands her
Styrofoam leftover container.
Presumably, this will keep late night snackers away.
A Happy Veteran’s Day cupcake for the man
of the hour.

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