A friend on the doorstep, is a friend indeed

The wailing sirens of the ambulance and a couple patrol cars sounded closer and closer, one Wednesday afternoon at my house on the corner of town in Princeton. Just as the vehicles arrived at my street, they cut the noise, turned slowly past my place and parked across the street. I knew that something serious was happening at my neighbor’s house.

That day, my neighbor Gary, was out working in the yard and his heart gave out. I had just seen him driving around in Ottawa the day before. Two days before, he was walking through the parking lot of Wal-Mart. He couldn’t have known then, that his time was almost up, here on this earth. I want to express my condolences and wish blessings for his wife, Peggy, and family, some of whom may read this blog.

I wasn’t always a great neighbor to Gary and Peggy. The last few years around here though, I’m sure were more pleasant for them. There are no more late loud nights, or too-many trucks tearing up their grassy ditch.

It is quiet over there now. Peggy hasn’t been back home much, and she may not return, I don’t know. There is a void in the neighborhood for sure…

I have setup this story, not to tell you as much about my thoughts on losing a neighbor, but there is someone else who is missing him more. I was talking to his family who has been coming to take care of the house and the yard. I heard a story about the day Gary passed. As the family was coming and going that afternoon, people were in and out of the house. They were helping pack up some items for Peggy, so that she could stay with her sister.

All through the late afternoon and evening they had a visitor. The friend came over and just stayed there, at the front door. She watched people come in and out and according to the family, she appeared to be waiting to see Gary, and somehow maybe knew he was gone.

“My” big, black half lab/half shepard, Roxy, and my neighbor Gary, must’ve been better friends than I ever realized. Over the years, I can remember seeing her hanging out in his yard, and I would call her home. Eventually, I did notice that he would sometimes be petting her, or she might be walking along with him. He was out in his yard, working on it and working in his shops much of the time. Roxy is a loose dog, she too is out and around our yard much of the time. I wonder how much of her free time, and of Gary’s free time, they spent together?

The James family, who is taking care of the property, told me that Gary had a pocket full of dog treats, the day he passed away. I don’t think they were all for Roxy, but some surely were. I have since heard that he made the rounds and had morsels for several of the neighborhood canines. That late Wednesday afternoon, when Gary had moved on, to a better place, Roxy came by to get some of her treats. Since she stayed on his porch and waited for him, I think maybe she was just as much ‘His’ dog, as ‘Ours’.

I can get so caught up sometimes, looking only through the grimy and broken lens of my own little perspective. I am riveted and bound tight to the world, just as I see and experience it. I notice only the stimuli that are transmitted through my own personal sensory organs. I feel futile and feeble, as the center of my own small crumbled universe.

Lucky for me though, I am not the center of it. I am only one of the many cogs, and lots of other cogs out there are moving along just fine, with or without me. Roxy, ‘my’ dog, has a life beyond me. She does her own thing. She has friends and pals and adventures all of her own. Roxy isn’t even the name she always goes by. Turns out that my neighbor, Gary, called her Rolley. He apparently was following me down the highway, the very day and time, that she fell out of the back of my truck at 65mph and ‘rolled’ across the tarmac. Tough girl, she survived that and picked up a well-earned nickname too.

I am pretty sure she has another name too, down the street to the south. A business there called Sensor-1 has a group of employees who take breaks a couple times a day. I am almost certain that Roxy knows exactly when those breaks are. She visits those folks too. Treats? Well, I can only guess. She isn’t going hungry, I can tell you that for sure.

The whole idea, that I may not be her only ‘human’ that is caring for her, is comforting in a way. It reminds me of a story, retold often by Dr Wayne Dyer: “Carl Jung said at the same moment you’re a protagonist in your own life making choices, you also are the spear carrier, or the extra, in a much larger drama. You’ve got to live with these two opposite ideas at the same time”

Sometimes I’m just the ‘spear carrier’ in the background. Even to my own dog. Sometimes, like on the evening that Gary passed away, Roxy showed that she wanted to be at home, with her family. It wasn’t at “our” house. But it was at her house. She was missing her master, and maybe still is…

There is a big beautiful dance going on, far beyond what my own mind can comprehend. I got a glimpse outside of my own personal drama, when I heard the story about Gary and Roxy. I am glad they had their special relationship. I hope he helps keep an eye on his ‘Rolley’, from his heavenly views now.

God Bless 🙂


Aaron Nichols

7 thoughts on “A friend on the doorstep, is a friend indeed

  1. Dear Aaron–Just got our computer back to life and read your blog–with a tear,
    I so appreciate your compassion and yes, G’pa and me so appreciate your phone calls. Even though, I feel I don’t have enough time in the day, I know I
    don’t always make good use of it. I need to take a lesson from Roxy, aka Rolley.

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