My kid has stormed into their home with bare, black-soled feet countless times since his birth. A former navy officer and his spitfire wife have been married 60 years this year. He is the more emotional half – she, the unbreakable shield.  My son, Wes, is their ‘yet to be refined’ kid neighbor.

Just this evening, he could be found knocking on their door, with his eyes glued to the glass as he spied through the tiny slits of their blinds. He held his position until the door opened. Mrs. Navy smiled and let him in. Chest out and chin up, he headed straight for the living room to see what Mr. Navy was watching. He popped right up in the recliner, laid back, arms behind his head trying to get a glimpse of a “grown up” show he isn’t allowed to watch at home. Mr. Navy paused the TV and chuckled, “Well, hey there ol’ Buddy.” They always welcome his child chatter.   

One day Mr. Navy was out mowing. Wes, then barely 2, hurried over as fast as his diaper would let him, dashing for the mower. Instead of pointing him back home, Mr. Navy slowed down, stepped back a stride and slid my child in front. My little tyke grabbed the sides of the mower as high as he could on both sides and tottered taller than he ever had. You would have thought he had won the Nobel peace prize for saving the world from Armageddon.  

Each summer, Wes and I are outside more than we are in. And so are Mr. and Mrs. Navy. Almost daily, I hear the climbing of wood and a little boy voice yelling over the top of the fence, “Mrs. Navy? Mr. Navy, is that you? I’m comin’ over ‘kay?” He’ll scamper on over, black soles again, with a fightin’ stick in hand, just to find out what they’re doing that day. I’ll hear the muffled ramblings of a common conversation about pulling weeds or planting new bushes, and then I’ll catch the sound of Mr. Navy’s funny jokes, and his teasing of ‘Wild Wes’ being velcro-ed to a wall to keep him still. The conversation is ordinary, yet mysteriously rich.

Somehow these two magically take my son back to a time when things were simpler, talking about dirt and dandelions and figs, still this simplicity has brought a profound abundance to his life that he won’t fully understand until later. We thank God that He paralleled their yard to ours. Were I to write about the hundreds of ways they have invested in us, I wouldn’t have enough space. Oh how we love the daily, mundane life with Mr. and Mrs. Navy.

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