Nearly 20 years ago, my wife and I bought our first home, a townhouse located in a neighborhood with other young family first-time home owners. Over the next few years, we got to know our neighbors and realized how fortunate we were to live near so many other couples with young families. What we did not realize at that time was how fortunate we really were to purchase the house we did.
By definition, townhouses are connected to adjoining houses so you get to know your immediate neighbors very quickly. Next to us lived a couple with older kids who were out of the house and on their own. This couple seemed very friendly so we hit it off quickly. Conversations on our connected decks led to dinners in our homes. Let me correct that. Our conversations actually led to many dinners in their home. They had a close family and they celebrated the holidays together. It was as if they hosted every event themselves and we were always invited guests. Anita is an amazing cook and the meals were always terrific. Even better, my wife and I really submerged ourselves in family time at their home. Our kids played with their grandkids and developed new friendships. We don’t have a big extended family, and most of our relatives are out of town, so we really enjoyed this connection.
One day I was in my garage attempting to fix the opener that was on the fritz. This is a big deal because unlike my neighbor David who can fix anything, I can’t do anything for myself around the house without making things worse. David, on the other hand, has rebuilt practically every room of his house and is one of the most self-sufficient people I know. If you look up handyman in the dictionary (I know I am aging myself with that expression), you will see David’s smiling face. That morning, I saw David on his ladder working on his window. He was wearing shorts because it was hot outside. I went out to talk to David and realized that he had a prosthetic leg. I never knew because he never told me. That day we talked about it. David told me that he lost his leg fighting for our country in the Vietnam War. David told me he was one of the lucky ones who came back full of life. For years I lived next to David but did not realize that he was handicapped. That’s because to this day David is one of the most capable men I know.
Our kids grew and like many other families, we moved on. We purchased another home that was not too far away and, from time to time, we get together with our next-door neighbors from the old ‘hood to catch up. A couple of months ago, I learned that David was in the hospital because of a problem he was experiencing with his prosthetic leg. I stopped by and we spent a few hours together catching up about the neighborhood, his family, my family and life. He complained a little about the food but his wife was there every night bringing him quality meals to eat. David never complained once about his leg or the discomfort of being the hospital for a week.
David embraces life, has real perspective about this great country and I am fortunate he share time with him. David is a true American hero and someone that my family and I admire deeply. He fought bravely for our country and cares about its well-being with a passion that I don’t see in too many people. He cares equally about his wife and his family which is apparent. David, I respect you and the countless other veterans like you that sacrifice life and limb for our freedom and protection every day.