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  • A year ago, after they'd finally gotten him to consider moving back to his original home town, a lovely little village nestled among mountains in Austria, neighbor Joe could not bring himself to leave until his yard was cleared of all the overgrowth, dead trees, and debris that had accumulated on that steep downhill slope of a backyard he had. (I think that took the record for the longest sentence I've ever written).

    His nephew Thomas, his tennis playing friend Anne, and her friend spent a week of backbreaking labor getting it to where Joe would feel comfortable leaving it. Joe had lovingly maintained that yard for 30 years or so, and simply could not leave it in that kind of shape.
  • I promised to maintain the yard as long as Joe still owned the house. I've done the best I could over the past year. His yard's just as big as ours, only with about twice as much grass on that back slope.

    The house is finally under contract, and will be officially sold this weekend. I've continued to cut it, even since it went under contract, because I made a promise. Joe was so attached to his yard, I think he would sense and know if it were not be being maintained, so I felt it my duty to keep at it.

    Yesterday was the final cut. As I surveyed the freshly mown lawn, from the bottom of the long slope, I felt a deep sense of satisfaction. I knew Joe would approve of the job I did. I also know that money can't buy the way it made me feel to do this for my friend and neighbor.
  • Joe was my neighbor for longer than I've ever had a neighbor - we've lived in this house longer (18 years) than I've ever lived anywhere.

    Joe's been very happy since moving home to his family. He was - is - a pretty special guy. They don't make 'em like him anymore. He was so proud to have made it out of his village, and to have made a life for himself in America. He was a patent attorney and an inventor. Joe invented the pop tops for soda cans that stayed on the can after popping them. Some of you might remember the original pop tops, that were a tab you pulled, then had to discard. Joe had quite the impact on soda cans. I got to survey his basement office where he did his inventing. That was pretty cool.

    It's been an honor to be Joe's neighbor - as it was to make the final cut on his yard. I can only hope that the next neighbor is half as solid a citizen as Joe was. This one was for you, Joe!
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