We have a wonderful neighbor who is turning, well, a bit older soon, and I wanted to write this tribute to him as a birthday present. We are very thankful that he and his family moved into our neighborhood several years ago. I know I have written about our neighborhood several times before, but today I am thankful for Patrick!
Patrick first came into our lives when he bought the house catty-corner across from ours and prepared to remodel it. He was very friendly and on a mission to meet all the neighbors. I suspect he met everyone the first day or two and knew the story of half of us by the end of the first week because Patrick is a “story gatherer.”
Patrick and his family moved into their newly remodeled house on Christmas Eve and we welcomed them into our neighborhood. Little did we know that Patrick would be instrumental in drawing our whole neighborhood closer together. Most of us had lived here for many, many years. We all knew each other but did not socialize much. We waved at each other and said hello when we passed on the street, but had little contact other than that. Patrick set out to correct that situation. Every Saturday morning Patrick was out in his front yard greeting neighbors, checking on everyone, visiting, working on his yard, and borrowing tools and help wherever he could. By doing this, he pulled all the neighbors together.
The Patrick we have come to know and love is full of fun! He bought a pedicab to take his daughter and her friends for rides, but the neighbors just love it when he picks them up for a ride. In the picture here he is taking the neighbor’s children and grandchildren for a late afternoon ride last summer. When I had my hip surgery, he devised a way to get me into the thing and took me on my first outing—a ride to visit the neighbors around the neighborhood.
New neighbors have moved into the neighborhood since Patrick and his family moved in, and, with Patrick leading the way, we have welcomed them and involved them in our gatherings. We have quickly gained new friends this way.
The first Christmas after Patrick and his family moved in, Patrick invited everyone to their house for a neighborhood Christmas party. It was a pot luck affair and we learned that our neighbors cooked wonderful specialties. We visited and got to know each other better that year and it has become an annual event. But Patrick did not stop there. He bought a large cowboy cooker that he uses to entice us out on cold winter nights to sit around the fire and share goodies, a glass of wine or cup of coffee, and discuss whatever world or neighborhood problems that need to be solved. In the summer we sit around the cowboy cooker (without the fire) and continue our problem-solving sessions.
As a result of Patrick’s efforts, our neighborhood has become very unified. We know each other much better, we know what is going on in each other’s lives, and we provide help and support where needed. Since the arrival of Patrick we have helped each other out in illnesses and surgeries. Our neighborhood has celebrated birthdays and holidays together. We have shared successes and worries. We watch each other’s homes when someone is away and we are so much closer to our neighbors now that we have Patrick to pull us together on a regular basis. Thank you, Patrick Fries, for standing out in your front yard each weekend and checking out the neighborhood—and gathering our stories!
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