How my 87-year-old neighbor became my best friend

I’ve always thought that older people give the best advice, especially when the conversation starts with “Back in my day.” When you hear that phrase, it usually means they are about to drop some knowledge that you better take heed to. That’s how it was when I met my 87-year-old neighbor.

I had just moved to a new city, and found that plenty of other young people lived in my apartment building. Between the party animals below me and the cute young couple next to me, I figured that it was only a matter of time before I had some new allies.

But that wasn’t quite the case.

Almost a year later, I still barely know those people — but my older neighbor is my best friend.

Our first encounter began when, one day, I was leaving my apartment with my dog, and my neighbor came out of his apartment at the same time. As usual, my dog instantly started barking, and my neighbor asked me if that was the dog he hears barking all day long. I quickly told him no, stating that there was another dog upstairs who is always loud (because, of course, my dog is an angel who does no wrong).

From that moment on, we spoke to each other daily in the parking lot. One day, I noticed his car wasn’t starting when he was on his way to run some errands. I empathized with his car troubles, and he asked me if I could go to the post office for him. I told him I didn’t mind. Why not help someone who is in need?

Here’s the thing: My neighbor lives alone, and it’s not often he has company. Like most of us, some older folks are lonely and just looking for someone to hold a conversation with. So, when I’m able to lend a hand, I do just that.

When I came back to drop off his receipt, he was amazed. He couldn’t stop thanking me, letting me know I was the only neighbor who actually talks to him.

It broke my heart to know that such a small gesture meant the world to someone. I mean, the post office was only eight minutes away — it wasn’t an inconvenience by any means. After he shared that with me, I always made sure he knew he had someone he could talk to.

Senior man drinking coffee

Whenever holidays roll around, I stick little cards and notes underneath his door. I always ask if he needs my help with anything.

Once, he approached me while I was unpacking my car. He told me, ~back in his day~, it was very important to treat people the way you wanted to be treated, saying that was the key to having a long-lasting life.

He went on to tell me how the more positive vibes you put into the world, the more good comes back to you. He went in depth about the importance of trust, expanding on the famous saying, “My word is my bond.

The wisdom I received fed my soul. He told me that, even though we had just met, he could tell I was on the right path, and to keep it up. It was the best advice anyone had ever given to me. It’s true, Age Ain’t Nothing but a Number, as the late, great singer Aaliyah once said. I gained a newfound friendship that I quickly grew to appreciate.

We have a very simple friendship, actually. I help him with errands from time to time, and in exchange, I get to listen to hours of stories that date back to the 1950s and gain knowledge on every part of life. We have lunch every other Tuesday afternoon, and it’s always a pleasure running into him in the apartment parking lot.

Life is something else. Just when you think you have everything planned out, it takes you on an unexpected turn for something amazing. Those other neighbors may have seemed cool, but my 87-year-old friend tops any friendship I’ve ever had.

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