Arthur Manichl walking his little dog Dixie past my house in the morning – just as he did every day in good weather.
He passed away last week at the age of 86.
Mr. Manichl and Dixie were a familiar sight to those of us who live along this stretch of Lake Road in Sheffield Lake. They lived about four houses east of me. No matter whether I was running late or not, I would always try and chat with him for at least a few minutes.
He and Dixie actually walked by my house several times during the day. If I had the day off and was mowing my lawn, I would stop the motor if I spotted him and we would chat even longer.
But even though we talked like this for years, I still really didn't know him that well. In fact, I didn't even call him by his first name. He was always Mr. Manichl to me. Somehow, it seemed disrespectful to call him anything else.
During our talks, I learned bits and pieces about him and his family; that he had been in the Navy during the Korean War; about what a great artist his wife Betty Jean was; about how lonely he'd been since she passed away in 2012.
We talked a lot about politics, too. Fortunately we agreed on just about everything, because he could get cantankerous when talking about a politician that made him mad.
He was a great neighbor. Once he came over on a summer afternoon and edged my sidewalk for me. He knew I didn't own an edger – probably from looking at my less-than-perfectly-maintained yard three times a day. He also loaned me his post hole digger when I had to replace my mailbox for the second time.
Mr. Manichl had been slowing down in recent years, and I hadn't seen him since before Christmas. Strangely enough, I had just been thinking of him last Wednesday morning, wondering how the dog walking was going during this ridiculously cold weather and deep snow. Then I came home that night to read in the paper that he had passed away on Tuesday. It was an unhappy coincidence.
It seems that your life is made up of many people that you don't know very well, and that you really can't call close friends. But when they're gone, it turns out they were a bigger part of your life than you thought, and their passing leave a good sized hole.
Mr. Manichl was that kind of guy. I'll miss seeing him every morning.