When I finally sat down last night to read and write a little, I was overcome with nostalgia. Our Mother’s Day celebration caused some of it but most of it came from our time at the church. The church was filled with others honoring the man’s life.
We knew him as Mr. Jimmy. We lived next door to him and his wife for thirteen years in another small town not far from the one we live in now.
We drove past the old place on our way to the church and sweet memories filled my mind. The summer gardens. The country roads. The fields and the tractors and the cows.
And Mr. Jimmy.
The visitation line moved slowly. When it was my turn to offer my condolences, I shared a few treasured memories, told his wife and daughters what he meant to us, and explained that our son would be there but he lives far away now.
Our kids spent a lot of time in Mr. Jimmy’s fields; climbing the hay bales, fishing the ponds, digging up bones and old glass bottles. They spent plenty of time in Mr. Jimmy’s barn too. Playing in empty stalls, cuddling kittens and chasing puppies. We didn’t know it until yesterday but on the wall of Mr. Jimmy’s barn is the name of each child that has ever passed through it, including our three. His wife told us Mr. Jimmy wrote their names in black permanent marker.
Anyone could tell Mr. Jimmy loved his place by the way he took care of it. He kept the barn clean and knew where everything was. A dust covered radio played old country or southern gospel music all the time. He enjoyed time on his tractor and ate onions right out of the ground. He chewed on peppermint from his herb garden to ease an upset stomach. He loved to tell a good story, especially the ones about how he used to be but wasn’t anymore. He loved Jesus and gave him all the credit for anything good in his life. He’d come to the house for a short visit and sit on the same side of the love seat every time. What we all remember most about Mr. Jimmy was his kindness, generosity and a willingness to go above and beyond.
Usually a verse I’ve read is rolling around in my head and I share it for Monday School. But today, it wasn’t a verse I was thinking about. I was thinking about Mr. Jimmy and what he meant to so many people.
Mr. Jimmy was a good neighbor. The kind Jesus talked about in the Gospels. The kind James wrote about in his epistle. And everyone was Mr. Jimmy’s neighbor.
Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself. James 2:8