When my family first moved to our street, all our neighbors were old people. Now they are all dead.
Mr. Crane was the first to go. He lived two doors down in a white house often confused for ours. I might have said a total of nine words to him, three years worth of ‘trick or treat’. His lawn and hair were meticulous. I do not know what his job was or what happened to his wife. Did he die in that house or shortly after moving to Florida? Perhaps my dad remembers. I do not.
Mrs. Carpenter lived next door, the first person I knew to use a lawn-service company. She was sweet and old, a widow, the kind of lady we should have been visiting once a week for tea. For several years her driveway was the bus stop – Cody and I would sprinkle snow across the bottom as decoration until someone told us she might slip on the way to get her newspaper every morning. After she died, we crept into her backyard early one morning and found three vintage cars parked on the grass, carefully wrapped in tarps. The new people who moved in called the school to have our bus stop moved.
Mr. D lived on the other side. There were two things he loved: his wife and his house. The house was a ranch he had built with his own hands, unique in a town filled with colonials and farm houses. He mowed his lawn with pride and snapped photographs of the birds at his feeders. I was always envious of the decades-old swing set rusting in the backyard. When he died, his similarly ancient son took over the lawn and tried to sell the house intact. A developer eventually tore it down to build a string of McMansions that loop behind our yard. My dad talked to Mr. D the younger when he stopped by the final time, but now son and father are blended in my mind. Two dead old men who loved a house.
Seven new houses have been built and now in some years my parents at 50 are the oldest on the block, though the street is constantly in transition. There are small young families who have their kids wait for the bus in the car, retired professors with painting studios above the garage, and the occasional house flippers. We are the last house mowing our own lawn.