A MAN NAMED BOB  By Lori A Alicea

His name is Bob.

You know him.

That person who cannonballs into the pool of your life, a super soaker whose name you carry a towel around most days to dry off from the splashes of their love.

We have a lot to learn from these men named Bob.

World changers and difference makers and probably unaware of the bright light they are shining.

A man named Bob in our life is the Welcome Mat of a small housing community, whose contagious smile has become the face of our neighborhood, a close knit place to hang your hat, to call this home.

Nestled among the towering trees that shade our neighborhood of sixty-plus manufactured houses, you might just blink and miss the entrance off the road leading into the small town ahead.

But one short drive through this community and odds are you’ll run into a one-man parade, our maintenance man smiling and waving from his (work van, truck or golf cart), to passerby’s or porch sitters returning their love to Bob.

The main attraction of this neighborhood, I find it symbolic that Bob’s home shared with his sweetheart, rests on the lot located in the center and heart of our community.

While fulfilling his job description as maintenance man with excellence, it isn’t these qualifications that catch our attention, yet are the initial reasons Bob finds his way into our homes and into our lives.

It’s that reflection of the many vintage homes once fashionable in the fifties and sixties, which now mirror the weathered looks of our resident fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers who hold hostage the heartstrings of a loving maintenance man who finds himself sometimes filling the shoes as son or grandson where there used to be one or painfully cries out for one.USE Vintage House

While we’ve all been taught to never judge a book by its cover, the same holds true for homes overgrown with weeds, and a Welcome sign dangling by a few remaining links in the chain.USE Overgrown Weeds Because near these front doors are recliners of isolated people longing for a knock, wishing to welcome anyone to share a cup of coffee, or spare them a minute when hours of loneliness is all they have to look forward to.

Bob knows these people by name.

He honors them by being that knock on the door.

He shares in their pain and like a good son or grandson,

Bob hovers with a close eye over them.

I’ve never noticed these vintage homes hidden off the path of a familiar road until David and I needed a home.

To be honest, the very first time I assessed the neighborhood, I drove out as fast as driving in. Not for me, or so I thought.

A few weeks passed when I decided to pay another unannounced visit and walk thru a home I saw on the realtor website.

Getting out of my car, this park’s Welcome Mat greeted me with his signature smile and became our neighbor weeks later.USE Full Front House

The neighborhood hadn’t changed from my initial drive thru, but I soon sensed its country feel of Home Sweet Home after meeting a man named Bob.USE Home Sweet Home

This peace no doubt is related to one man deputizing himself as son or grandson and honoring a generation of weathered matriarchs and patriarchs without judgment, without strings, yet given from a heart of family.

While a log cabin settled on a piece of land in the woods could have been a dream come true for us, yet God chose an address where the park’s Gold Rule is lived through a man named Bob.

Love your neighbor as yourself.
There is no commandment greater than this.
Mark 12:31 NIV

Oh, the lessons we’ve learned from Bob, whose classroom ignites a deep passion to pay it forward.

On winter days he shows up on a secret mission to plow driveways impassible with snow.  Why?  Because that’s what good neighbors and a man named Bob does.

He displays a willingness to serve whether on the clock or not.

He ensures the neighborhood safety by weeding out trouble.

He promotes community by joining conversations David and I are having with other neighbors we meet on our evening walks together. Reminds me of the old days growing up when neighbors brought out their lawn chairs and congregated after dinner.

The little kids are crazy about Bob; and so are we.

Next Employee Appreciation Day, we’re nominating Bob for a raise; a wonderful thought for your Bob too.

Until then, we’ll keep appreciating and waving when our one-man parade passes by the house.

Here’s to the best neighbor ever.

Here’s to your man and our man named Bob.