On Saturday, my neighbor, Francis ("Frank") Reagan died. He had been ill for a while, so when I glanced over at his yard on Saturday, and saw that his flag was at half staff, I knew we had lost him.
(A neighbor later confirmed.)
Frank had an incredibly generous spirit. He was always plying us with tomatoes, cucumbers, and one summer, pounds and pounds of plums. We would often come home to a bag of tomatoes hanging on the door knob. (Once he hung it on the handle of the garage door and we almost accidentally made tomato sauce.)
We often talked politics and when he learned of my own interest, he started dropping off his New Yorker Magazines. They were dotted with his finger prints, hi-lighted passages and notes in the margins.
Over the years he told me about what it had been like to live in the area. How the place where my house stood used to be a community garden, and about how he planted the first plants in my yard when they built the house.
Although Frank was always quick to say "Howdy, Neighbor", his wife, never acknowledges me. (So I just let her be.) I was delighted the day Frank told me how much she enjoyed the scent of my lavender wafting through her kitchen.
Since we moved in I have seen the ambulance come for Frank at least four times. And each time, he would come back, a little worse for wear, but happy to continue on with life.
Frank will live on, in the plants he planted in my yard over 10 years ago that continue to disrupt my own plants, no matter what I do. In the fact that I remember the name of the nearby elementary school, Franklin, because his name is in it.
And in the fact that when me moved here, to a new state, a new city, he showed me what a neighbor was. And that made me feel at home.
Here is his obituary.