When I moved into my house years ago there was an elderly gentleman named Jimmy that lived across the street from me. Jimmy was in his late 70s then. Jimmy was a WWII vet who saw plenty of action all across Europe and was very proud of that. Jimmy took a liking to me because I was former Military and a current police officer. We spent a lot of time sitting on his patio in his back yard sipping cheap beer Jimmy always had on tap. He would regale me with stories of his exploits and adventures during WWII and many times he told me the same story a few different ways. I enjoyed those times with Jimmy and I know he did as well.
He was up there in age, obviously, so I felt it my neighborly duty to shovel his walk and driveway when it snowed, they always offered money but I never took it. They would always sneak a bottle of spirits between my door at Christmas time and that’s how we left it. During the summer Jimmy had a riding mower and he enjoyed getting on that thing and mowing his grass so I never had to mow his grass. It was always after he mowed his grass that he would look for me, call me over and we’d sit sipping that cheap beer.
Jimmy passed away about 10 years ago and it saddened me deeply. I really loved his stories, even the ones I heard over and over, because each time he told them he told them like it was the first time he ever told anyone. Jimmy was a GREAT guy.
His wife remained behind and as my kids got older they helped her with things. We mainly kept to shoveling her walk in the winter, she had grandsons that mowed the lawn. As the years passed she became more and more frail and it got to the point that she could no longer care for herself and she moved in with her daughter. They asked us if we could mow the grass. We said we would mow the grass and shovel the walkway. The house has been left empty for three years now, the son in law pops in a couple of times a year to make sure everything is alright but mainly the house sits empty.
My kids have been mowing the grass for the past three years and while we told them we wouldn’t accept any pay, they send a popcorn gift basket to my kids every 2 or 3 months. My kids have grown up, they have lives and the grass was getting out of control. It’s a big yard, bigger than ours, and I was dreading mowing it but knew today I had to get over there and mow it. I mowed the front first and went into the back yard. I stood on the patio where Jimmy and I sat and shared a few cold ones and he shared his great adventures with me. I had been in that back yard a few times since Jimmy passed away but always with someone with me. Today I stood alone and remembered Jimmy like I hadn’t in a few years. The grass was so high in the back and even with it raised to the highest position I struggled with the mower to get through it.
I kept getting a strange feeling like I was needed some where or someone was watching me. I looked up to the back of the house and Jimmy was in the window looking at me, smiling. I looked at him for a good 5 seconds not believing what I was seeing but feeling really cool about it. I didn’t move, I didn’t wave I just smiled and Jimmy faded into the curtain that hung on the window.
I have to admit I got a little emotional over that, I finished mowing and walked back to my house feeling at first creeped out, but now feeling totally at ease. Jimmy is there, in the home he made as a young man. The home he raised his children in, loved his wife in, shared a cold one with friends and ultimately died in. He’s been lonely for a couple of years and I think today him seeing me gave him comfort and he was happy. I wish I could walk over there now and sit with him, sip a beer and listen to his stories again.
In the end seeing Jimmy brought some semblance of peace to me, I don’t know if you believe in ghost, I sure do, I’ve had too many encounters in my life not to, but today was special and good and it affirms to me that there is something so much more going on than we can ever really know, something beyond this life, whatever it is you believe in sometimes it takes a Jimmy to remind us.