On the day before his 90th birthday party, our neighbor Doug popped into our garage.
“Can I borrow your leaf blower?” he asked Vinnie, who had been assigned to clean his father’s work bench.
“Sure,” said Vinnie. “But if you want someone to blow out your yard, I’ll do it.”
“I finished my yard,” the spry nonagenarian said. “I just need it to do yours.”
Such is life when you live next door to a retired member of General Patton’s army, equal parts admiration and humiliation. Often I’ve been drawn to our bay window by an unfamiliar noise and found Doug raking, shoveling, cutting, trimming or aerating our yard. I’ve written about Doug before.
To combat his stubbornly helpful nature, we threw him a surprise party.
True to form, he served his own birthday cake, but in between he flirted, schmoozed, chatted, and generally held court among a group of our neighbors and friends.
If you ever have an opportunity to throw a 90th birthday party for a WWII veteran on the eve of Memorial Day weekend, consider yourself lucky.
You will find yourself saluting with your grilled burgers and fruit salad, the personification of American pride. Here’s to Doug and his fellow members of the greatest generation — here’s to easy manners, pressed slacks, straight backs, trimmed hedges, weeded gardens, ready humor, abiding ethics, and family love.
Happy birthday Doug and, for everything, thanks. As John F. Kennedy once said, geography has made us neighbors, history has made us friends.