Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Waving from a Distance

I like those small interactions that connect an immediate or an extended neighborhood—the eye contact when passing each other on the sidewalk, the greeting, the wave, the comments, children at the same school. The proximity of our houses brings us together but that doesn’t guarantee friendship or sometimes even acknowledgement.

Recently as I was taking a walk my friendly, extended neighbor (a long block away) saw me coming, turned off the lawnmower and removed his earphones. I've known Joe and his wife for many years. If he is outside when I pass his house he smiles and steps onto the sidewalk where we share conversation. He has been retired for some time now but his wife is still working despite battling cancer. I know about their two children and grandchildren. I have learned about bits and pieces of their lives in irregular snatches. After the “how are you?”s on that particular day he asked me my son’s name “You know, the shy one.” I smiled and told him “That would be Phil.” He has seen him out taking his mandatory five-days-a-week walk. Then Joe continued “I’ve tried to get him to say hello but have had no luck. Then the other day I saw him on the other side of the street down a ways and I waved. And he waved back. Now whenever I see him I wave and he responds.” Joe was sincerely pleased with this progress with Phil.

Maybe someday Phil will even say “hello.”

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