Ralph is my neighbor. For fifty years, he has let strangers walk up his driveway to access a trail into the Santa Monica Mountains. Mutt and I walk up his driveway at least four times a week.
One day, the aviary was empty. His son had come and taken all the birds away to Malibu. Somehow, it had been decided that Ralph couldn’t take care of them anymore. When I heard the news I thought, “I would have taken care of them for him.” But then I wondered, are the losses necessary? Is it right to try to stave them off? Or is it better for all of us to find out what we can live without? Even if it is the stuff that makes life worth living?
Most days, Ralph sits at his dining room table and watches me, and all the other strangers, pass him by. I wave to this generous man, and he waves back.