If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you know of our relationship with Mr. Bill. Mr. Bill is our neighbor whom Robby has adopted as both a friend and a mentor. The two toil digging in the dirt, laying sod, and working on whatever project is being constructed at the time.
Robby adores Mr. Bill, and I believe the affection is reciprocated. Every afternoon after I pick up Robby at school, we drive directly to Mr. Bill's house. The two sit at his kitchen table sharing cheese and crackers while Robby fills him on his school activities. I should probably explain that Mr. Bill taught Robby to bite cheese directly off the block "like a man" instead of cutting it into squares "like a girl."
Going to debrief with Mr. Bill is such an expectation that Robby won't tell me anything about what he is doing in school when I pick him up. He merely replies, "I'm saving it to tell Mr. Bill." If I didn't eavesdrop I would never know what was going on! Their relationship is both rare and special.
Mr. Bill has chopped and supplied us with several years worth of firewood, claiming that swinging the ax is therapeutic for his shoulder and he needed to get rid of the dead trees. He built Robby's tree house. He taught Robby the joy of peeing on trees. He worries about me when my limp is pronounced. He also confessed that my wearing sandals (and having the foot shell visible) makes him sad; I try to avoid wearing my sandals in front of him.
In return we take him leftover meals when I know he isn't feeling well and keep him in a steady supply of cookies and cakes. Robby and I shovel his driveway and sidewalk when it snows (and I pretend that I didn't notice the dollar he slipped into Robby's mitten.) We get his mail, and I listen to his stories. Still, I often wish that I could do something more.
Yesterday, after the cheese and crackers were cleaned up, Mr. Bill asked me for help. He explained that his favorite shoes were worn out and that the duct tape was no longer holding the soles together. He tried to call the number for the shoe store but the number has been disconnected. He wanted to know if I could "go onto that www thing" and see if I could find the shoes, but lamented that they probably were no longer available because they "are old, just like me."
Robby and I headed home and immediately became cyber detectives. It didn't take long. In fact I was surprised that I located the prized shoes within three clicks. With the fourth click I pressed the "buy me" button, and the shoes are now on their way!
Mr. Bill doesn't know that we found the shoes. I think we'll just leave them by the door for him to discover. After all, that's how Robby's fishing pole always magically appears at our house, anonymously fixed after the line is tangled and reel is broken.