Tuesday, August 5, 2008


Our neighbor Caitlyn is a 7 year-old pistol. She's a petite thing but full of personality and gumption. She's one of the many kids in the neighborhood that feel more like nieces and nephews than they do neighbors. On Sunday she and her brother were out walking with our family and I was watching her in her gold flip-flops and "Girl Power" t-shirt. "I really wish I was going to see that one grow up. She's going to be something else," I thought to myself.

Her dad, Dave, is a teddy bear of a man: a barrel chested fellow with a heart of gold. When I was in the hospital getting my first feeding tube placed, Dave was one of my first visitors. He came bearing a vase of flowers and an offer: to paint the extra bedroom that Bill and I intended to make into my own special space. Bill had already painted it once but the color was too red and I felt like I was going to have a massive coronary every time I walked into the room. (Bill and I have different versions of how this mistake occurred. According to Bill, he painted two samples on the wall and I chose one of them. So he went and bought the paint. In my version, I never gave the final OK to buy the three gallons of expensive Ralph Lauren paint and felt like I should just go along with it one they were purchased. For months I tried to get used to the color but it was impossible.) Later that day Dave's wife, Cathy, arrived with every blue and green paint sample from Home Depot. I chose three colors to start and, after seeing them in the room and pondering their relative merits, I finally chose the one Cathy had picked in the first place.

An aside:

If you ever want to her Bill complain about me, just ask him what it is like living with me while I am choosing a paint color. My current record is 9 different possible paint colors on the wall at one time for over 6 months before finally making a decision. We recently painted the family room and I had him put 8 different colors on the wall and still had not made a decision after three months. Finally he said, "Decide today or I will." I picked one and then, after he and my brother spent a whole weekend painting, I decided I didn't like it. Bill's response? "Too damn bad. It stays."

The summers in North Carolina can be downright tropical (malaria was once endemic here) and often include almost daily thunderstorms. During one of these splendid storms, one of the large trees in our backyard suffered extensive damage. Bill and I were out with the kids the next morning and when we returned home I could hear a chainsaw in our backyard. When we looked out the backdoor, there was Dave taking care of the tree. How can you not love a man like this (and his wife who lets him spend his afternoon helping a neighbor)? After he and Bill finished, Dave came into the kitchen for a drink of water. He let Watson outside, "Go on, Waston," he said mimicking the way his daughter Caitlyn mispronounces Watson's name.

"That reminds me," Dave said, "The other night Caitlyn said, 'Waston likes to hump Zara.'" Cathy apparently then asked Caitlyn what that meant. "It means he wants to have sex with her," Caitlyn answered authoritatively. At this point, I started to worry. I have told the kids that they are NOT to explain sex to any other children because that's a parent's job. When Cathy asked what that meant Caitlyn replied in dramatic fashion, "I don't know, but Amelia does. If you want to know, you should ask her."