As the day of green beer and ancestry manipulation arrives, I am down one soul. As poetic as it is to have happened on St. Patrick’s Day, my beloved neighbour from down the road, Irish Pete, has moved on. Not to heaven, just to Pickering. I live in one of those rare neighbourhoods where I know my neighbours which is normal for me, being that I grew up in a tiny fishing community, but odd in this large place that I now find myself. Or so it has been pointed out to me like i’m doing it wrong.
Irish Pete is one of those quintessential immigrants full of piss n’ folklore living a life that will eventually be set to a melody. A former professional boxer who, when he takes his walk around the block, makes gentle fists that you know could take you down in one swing. On the occasions that i’ve joined him, I take the outside because i’d rather absorb a car than an accidental Celtic jab. His eyes are always just shy of shedding a tear and ever so slightly wonky from years of hits to the head. He’s almost pretend he’s so real.
In our time together on this street, he lost his sweetheart that he had cared for so tenderly through a long and difficult illness. He lost his gorgeous german sheppherd Bailey. (What did you think his name would be, Claus?) And after a stoically appropriate Irish time of mourning, he let one gossipy neighbour have it full guns and he was back. The spirited twinkle that was lost for a while returned. It took a good fight, as it should. She lost.
If I could be so bold and preach a smidge of my small town doctrine, see what you can do to know your neighbours a little bit. Communities don’t just have to be through churches or ethnicities, they can be from just plain old geography. It’s quite possible that you are sleeping with some of them, a wall or alleyway the only thing between you. As a collector of stories, I could not make up what it looked like to have an 80 year old Irish boxer learn to play beer pong in my back yard surrounded by my family.
That being said, if the people that buy his house are arsholes, I will pretend I don’t see them.