I love that picture.
Dot and Bill were THE BEST neighbors the ten years or so Rick and I lived across from then in Concord, NC. At first they stood out just for being the only sane ones on the street, but time revealed multiple layers of their friendliness and virtue. They were such good neighbors, that they're the kind I've sought out wherever I've lived since. Sadly, clones of Dot and Bill have, and shall remain, elusive.
Dot and Bill were the most generous people I've ever known, both of them, and they taught this to their children. Unlike most nice, generous people, they weren't grooming you to see what they could get back, either, or keeping score.
Bill and I had a mutual appreciation for the absurd. He and Dot would invite me in for what he called "a cold drink" (Diet Coke, etc.) and then we'd have show and tell. For instance, he'd show me everything (such as purple grapes) they had in their (squeeeeeaky clean) refrigerator. It was just so funny. It became a regular game we played. Then Dot would heat up that chili macaroni dish for Bill's supper, the only thing he would eat, she said, which was also funny. Once I found him up on a ladder, trimming a broken branch in the cherry tree in their backyard. He offered me some cherries and claimed he'd never tasted one. WHY? I had to know, and he owed it to his upbringing that he was not encouraged to experiment in culinary matters.
I admired his steadfastness and discipline--even when it came to things he didn't have to do, such as whatever hobby he had at the time. I'd never seen that before. I thought discipline was something you reserved for what you had to do, but Bill had plenty to go around. Such FOCUS always undergirded his enthusiasm. When the organ was his instrument, or the accordion, he'd make sure to play it an hour a day, to improve his proficiency, which would, in turn, enhance his enjoyment, I suppose. The range of his interests astonished me, as did the way he'd explore each one fully, learning the lingo, acquiring the appropriate gizmos, getting enthused about something new when he needed a new challenge. I've never known anyone so good at not being bored. No couch potato was Bill Clark! It seemed to me he could do anything, and thought nothing of knocking out or throwing up a wall to alter the flow of the space in their home. He and Dot were the Lewis and Clark of home improvement, always exploring ways to reconfigure or enhance the personal space of their home, which they enjoyed sharing with other people like me. What a couple of sweet, busy beavers!
Bill was so devoted to Dot and the kids, with whom he'd rather be than with anyone in the world. You could count on that. Look up "Kind man who minded his own business" and "Devoted to family" on Google Images & you'll find pictures of Bill Clark.
I respected he and Dot for conducting their lives with decency and simple respect for others, and for bringing up their children to do the same. I admired Bill for thinking for himself about "the big questions," and having the courage of his convictions.
Dot and Bill. The things they did for us, they and their children, you have no idea. The wheels were ever turning in their daughter's head, cooking up new ways to keep her parents interested and active, and to distract them from the challenges that come with aging. B is an absolute creative artist at it. I hope Dot has many years left to enjoy her children and granddogs, the peace and comfort of B's home, and the many surprises B has in store for her. For Bill, rest in peace in dear friend.