Friday, September 19, 2008

Saying goodbye

Yesterday Spouse & I drove back to VA to handle a few last items related to the sale of our house. Today the house is no longer ours.

We needed to swap the chandelier out with the one from our current dining room, so we could bring the crystal chandelier, dripping with prisms, back to our current house. We also needed to pick up the lawn mower and various other yard work tools the tenants requested we leave for their use. We also needed to close Spouse's old checking account. Fortunately these things all took place without a hiccup.

But another important task on our to-do list was to say goodbye to our treasured neighbors, Suzanne & George. For years we traded pet sitting duties with them when either of us was away. Many an evening Suzanne would catch us as we arrived home from work, and we'd talk in the driveway about whatever. They were friendly, down-to-earth, smart folks we really liked a lot.

I called Suzanne earlier in the week to tell her we were coming, and we agreed the 4 of us would have lunch together on Thurs. George picked up subs from the Italian Store while Suzanne, Spouse & I sat on her porch and caught up on the goings-on of the neighborhood and each other. We had a lovely lunch outside and talked until we could no longer delay the inevitable. We said our goodbyes and thanked them for a lovely lunch, and for their friendship.

As we were loading the last of our loot into the CRV, I saw Suzanne crossing the yard toward us.

"I know we've already said goodbye, but there's one more thing I wanted to say to you," she began. I really couldn't imagine what it might be.

"I want you to know how happy we are that YOU were our neighbors. You were role models for our two sons. You know, sometimes people say derogatory things about gays, but I know that if my boys hear those kinds of things, they'll know they aren't true. They know that their old neighbors Mark & Joe were gay and that they were fine fellows. So before you left, I just wanted to tell you how grateful we are that you two were such great neighbors and such great role models."

We were truly touched. I thanked Suzanne sincerely for having said such a nice thing, and gave her a final hug.

I've never thought of myself as a role model, and doubt that Spouse has either. But as I thought more about what she said, it struck me that each of us can be a role model to others without knowing it, and without desiring it.

Its tempting to think that if we'd known we were role models, we might have done some things differently or better. But on 2nd thought, why?

Being the only gays on the block (and perhaps in the neighborhood) we just tried to live an authentic life. We never felt we deserved special treatment, nor did we ever feel that we should apologize for being different from our hetero neighbors. We hosted our family for Thanksgiving just like our neighbors, mowed our yard just like our neighbors, and went to work each day just like our neighbors.

But without knowing it, we were role models.

Crush du Jour: David Shillington


mistress maddie said...

Now I new page begins. It was a awful nice thing for your next door neighbor to say such kind words. Usually the best role models don't even know they are.

TankMontreal said...

What a great story. Sometimes the most powerful messages come from the most unassuming sources. All the best in the new place.

You said...

I love that story! Actually I'm a little veklempt! And I hope your new neighbors will be just as cool!

David Dust said...

That is so touching.


A Lewis said...

I'm typing with misty eyes here...for I just had that said to us when we moved a few months back. Plus, I don't even know you personally and can full well believe that you were, indeed, good role models. That's what our world needs. And it sounds like you're on it! Good news, boys.

Anonymous said...

Your neighbors sound like good people too.

But that's the thing people don't understand. People aren't intentionally evil, they're just lonely, afraid and scared for the most part.

And we gay people aren't monsters. Once you get to know us you find out we're not so different after all. That's what destroys prejudice by the way, get to know people that are different from yourself.

So I have straight friends, gay friends, black, white, Latino, Asian and combinations thereof. friends. Your skin color, sexual orientation, or ancestry don't mean a thing to me. You as a person are the only thing that matters.

It's part of what makes me a social justice crusader.

the hobbit said...

Aww..pookie, I'm glad all our good thoughts came of something.

And your crush? Oh my gerd! He so pretty! Do you have something larger? Yes? Please?

Bugsy said...

Congrats on the sale of the house.

It was a wonderful story about your neighbors. It just shows what wonderful guys you both are!

It also shows that you don't have to be in people's faces in order to be a role model; or to show that LGBT people can live together in a 'normal' way. (Whatever 'normal' may be.)

So thanks for being one of many role models for the Gay community!

Anonymous said...

I got a little teary eyed myself there. How sweet was that? There are good people in the world.

We should put you on a brochure for middle america.

Thomas said...

That's the best sort of gift anyone can receive. Very nice, they are keepers.

Now if I can just find a way for that man in that pic to be my role model...

Breenlantern said...

Lead by example, inspire by truth, teach by being shameless in who you are. Your lives are a more powerful statement than any march or speech. Thanks for your visibility and openness.

tornwordo said...

You know each time that happens, it puts another chink in the wall of prejudice. Way to go. Part of my motivation for blogging is, well not so much to be a role model, but to show that we are all FAR more alike than different. (muff diving notwithstanding)

Shane said...

awwww, I think Im pms'ing cause that story made me cry.

we have next door neighbors exactly like that, and Im going to hate when we leave and they wont be there anymore.

my husband and I are pretty much the same as you boys, we are just normal people, with normal lives.

Jeff said...

What a very nice thing for Suzanne to have said. I know you haven't been neighbours for a while now, but I am sure you will all miss each other.


Java said...

That's so touching! And it comes from a life of being honest about who you are. Super cool!

cb said...

I think that was a nice thing for your neighbor to say. She obviously didn't have to, but she felt you should know.

And that's a good thing!

Anonymous said...

I hope your new neighbors are just as nice. Good neighbors are hard to find. Keep in touch with them so their boys can continue to be in your life.