This is one of several gratitude blog posts that has been cooking on the stovetop of my mind for just about nine years now. Today, I’m grateful for the kindness and generosity of my neighbor, Bernard Alexander.
A self-described “country folk” from West Virginia, Bernard and his wife Patricia have been our neighbors since the day we moved to Alexandria. They have been long-time residents of our community, having seen many changes in the community spirit.
Bernard is fond of the old days of block parties, cooking for neighbors, and socializing with everyone from nearby streets. That doesn’t happen anymore, partially because of changes in management, partially because the cultural make-up of our neighbors has changed.
That hasn’t stopped Bernard, though. Bernard and his wife have several family members still living in the area. He gets together with them frequently to have pleasant talk, usually over a grill or cookout.
My husband and I fondly dub Bernard “the hardest working man in Alexandria” for the long hours he puts in with all of his jobs. A truck driver by day, a gardener and caretaker by night, and a co-owner of a men’s clothing store and band manager on weekends,
Bernard has little free time for fun.
What little time he has left in a busy 24-hour period, Bernard chooses to use it to the benefit of our community, doing his best to curb loud music and other nuisances. Bernard, the one-man citizen’s watchgroup, selflessly watches over his neighbors to make sure everyone is doing well!
And even all of that mind-numbing quantity of activities hasn’t stopped him, because rain or wind or snow or shine, Bernard is out there cutting grass, blowing leaves, shoveling snow, weeding, or doing other related activities that are connected to nature. And since he does his house so beautifully, Bernard spreads the love by doing our house, too.
Every time we see Bernard outside approaching our home, getting ready to beautify it in some way, we close the curtains and hide. We are always so embarrassed that Bernard conveniently gets to our lawn, trees, and bushes before we always do. In our harried family life with two girls and their continuous needs, it is hard for us to schedule time to take care of our own yard. No worries, Bernard to the rescue!
Today was no exception, although it was a funny story. Just yesterday, my husband promptly announced that it was time to clean up the leaves. We wanted to hurry up and do it before Bernard got to do it. We worked hard yesterday, took care of all the leaves. And you know what? It didn’t matter, because all the leaves were back today!
The hardest working man took care of it for us today, and I just could not let another day pass by without me taking his picture and presenting Bernard with some sort of acknowledgment and recognition for all he has done for us for just about nine years.
There is no way we could ever repay Bernard for his kindness and generosity, not just in cleaning up our yard, but in watching over our home and being such an extraordinary neighbor. I am very grateful for the friendship we have forged with Bernard and his wife, and am so grateful that God has blessed us with such fine neighbors.
What are you grateful for today? I hope you will join me and share your story in the comments section.