Our next door neighbor is an elderly Italian woman. She doesn't speak too much English but she has always been kind to us and often bakes us cookies she lovingly lifts over the fence to us. We try to keep an eye on her property for her and check on her during storms.
She recently had a heart attack* and was still in the hospital during Hurricane Sandy. Her son came over before the storm to prepare the house and we told him we would keep a watch out for the house. Unfortunately the storm was not as kind to our neighbors as it was to us. Their shed lost part of its roof and their plum tree fell on our fence and knocked down our trellis.
Yesterday the son came back to inspect the damage and survey the tree. Unfortunately, it couldn't be spared. That tree was planted by his father, many years ago. You could see the pain in his eyes as he cut it down. He cut the main branches down and threw them to our side of the fence so we could help get them in manageable pieces. He nicely offered to let us keep the wood to use in our outdoor firepit and we are now stocked for a long while. I know that each time we use it we will think of his father, Ernesto.
*Our neighbor is fine and is back home recovering now. As our next storm hits we will be watching out for her closely. Though we are neighbors, oddly enough we are on different power grids, so if one of us loses power, often the other has it.