O'BRIEN: Nothing beats having good neighbors

Posted: Feb. 5, 2013 8:11 am Updated: Mar. 5, 2013 12:15 pm

I hate moving. When we moved into our current house in 1998, I told my wife that we were never going to move again.

I hate the packing and unpacking, the loading and unloading, and pretty much everything else associated with moving. When we're younger, we're a bit more nomadic. You'd find yourself a couple of milk crates (Are those things even around any more?), maybe get a suitcase or two, and move on to your next destination.

Should the O'Briens pack up and move, I wouldn't even know where to start. I'm pretty sure that I would convince my wife to have an open house, sell all of our stuff and buy all new for our next home. Sure beats having to do all of that work.

As bad a mover as I am, I'm probably an even worse neighbor. If it wasn't for my neighbors, my house would be in disrepair and we'd have a family of opossums living in our garage. Yes, a family of opossums.

How much do I love my neighbors? Let me count the ways.

I'm ashamed of my yard. I can't get grass to grow in two huge spots. We have some kind of funky grass growing in the front lawn that I can't get rid of. Fortunately, one of my neighbors is a sod god. He's told me what I can do to fix the problems, but I'm not smart enough to get the grass to grow -- or the weeds to die. You can lead a horse to the grass, but you can't make him grow it.

Another one of my neighbors owns a tavern. He is nice enough to buy my wife and me drinks when we go into his pub after date nights. I'm nice enough to try to catch the wild throws my 8-year-old makes when we're playing catch so that the baseball doesn't slam into his house. That's a fair trade.

It's never fun when my neighbors move. We've been blessed to have some really good people live near us. Our kids have always gotten along and they've been great people to have in our lives.

About 18 months ago, one of the families we were close with moved after the father was transferred by his company. Thankfully, the man of that house understood my plight and helped me whenever he could. The guy had every tool known to man, which made him a key ally.

When I needed help in the yard, he was always happy to help. I pruned my first tree thanks to him. Now, when I look at the tree pruner in our shed, I think of him and try to remember how to use the darn thing.

There's a "For Sale" sign up in the neighborhood now. Another family that we have come to know really well is moving east to get closer to their roots. Thanks to them, I never had to buy a trampoline for my kids. Heck, they even had the neighborhood basketball hoop.

They were the first to invite you over to come hang out on a warm summer night. Guess, I'm going to finally have to break down and buy a basketball hoop, but we're not going to get a trampoline.

Then there's the neighbor who has helped get me out of some pretty sticky situations. Early one morning -- like 4 a.m. early -- I couldn't get my garage door open because the power was out and I was too weak to get it open by myself. He was already out warming up his truck, so he came over and helped me pry the thing open. We wound up using a basketball to keep the door place so that my wife and kids could get out of the house later in the morning.

The same neighbor played a huge role in helping us from being an outpost for wayward opossums. Two years ago, we were coming back from an evening ice cream run when we opened the garage door and found an opossum hanging out inside. The little critter darted into the shed inside our garage. That left me to try to get the thing out. I'm about as good as dealing with animals as I am growing grass, which is to say that I stink at it.

Armed with a card table to shield me from a vicious opossum attack, and a broom as a weapon to shoo it away, I tried to get the baby opossum out of the shed. After 30 wasted minutes, the opossum wasn't going anywhere. That's when I saw my neighbor come home. He gladly offered his help. Without using my card table shield or my broom, he was able to get the critter to scamper out of the garage in just a few minutes.

If that neighbor ever moves, I'm out of luck. But at least the opossums will be happy.




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