I watched him care for his wife until she passed away. He was very quiet, not prone to conversation, but always had a shy smile and a comfortable way about him. I didn’t see him much after she died, except when he would head out of his driveway on his 10-speed bike for one of his long Sunday morning rides.
Several years passed and I watched as my neighbor painted his porch, washed his truck and cut the oleander in his yard. It was a solitary life compared to mine, which was filled with the demands and joys of my growing family, work and friends. Then one day I looked out the window and saw him laughing as he hoisted a young boy on his shoulders. Even from a distance, I could see the light in his eyes.
Slowly, the transformation occurred. There were potted geraniums on the porch and wind chimes on a tree outside the kitchen window, where three people sat down to dinner now instead of one. Happy voices volleyed back and forth across the yard, evidence of a family in the making.
Rachel met Ed at his Western store, when she came in to buy a pair of genuine cowgirl boots. She was visiting from New York and, not prone to shyness herself, asked him if he would show her around Tucson. Reluctantly, he agreed.
Who would have imagined that less than a year later, Rachel would pack her bags and leave her New York life, job and friends to create a new home with her 6-year-old son Jason in the Sonoran desert? And who would have thought that my lonely neighbor would blossom into a family man, in just a few short months?
I am not a voyeur, but I have to admit that I have loved watching what has happened at the house across the street. Because I have seen something quite special: the remarkable transformation of a man, a woman and a young boy who have come together as a family through the restorative powers of love.
Amy Hirshberg Lederman is an author, Jewish educator, public speaker and attorney. Her columns have won awards from the American Jewish Press Association for excellence in commentary. Visit her website at amyhirshberglederman.com