A little ditty about Jim and Diane8/9/2016
Four years ago, Richard Bywater moved into the house next to retired couple Jim and Diane Baker. A first-time homeowner and a student at the time, Bywater didn’t know what to expect. So, he was a bit surprised by his first encounter with the couple next door.
“One of the first things I remember is Jim, next door, he came and welcomed us into the neighborhood and he offered up his garage key and was just like, ‘Look, anything you want from there, you just moved in…’ He let me use his lawnmower and stuff, so that was kind of cool,” Bywater said.
The Bakers have had their share of neighbors. In the 15 years they’ve lived in their home just off Ingersoll Avenue, the house next door has housed as many as 15-20 people, mostly students or young professionals. Currently, Bywater lives there with his wife, Lindsey, and two other roommates.
Jim and Diane offer their tools to the neighbors, along with doing other neighborly deeds like taking the trash to the curb, because they remember what it’s like to live such a busy lifestyle.
“I’ve been there myself, juggling at one point three different jobs,” Diane said. “I know that it’s not always easy. And that’s why we take their trash to the curb, because we don’t see any cars there, and it’s trash day. If I was that busy, I would enjoy somebody who takes out my trash.”
“I was taken away by that,” Bywater explained. “It’s not something that happens back home because people don’t trust each other. …It was such a nice gesture. Even, sometimes, I don’t get up early enough in the morning and Jim’s already [cleared] the driveway, and I’ve done that a few times for Jim as well.”
The Bakers are the type of couple to take notice of their neighbors, especially when they’re in need of help — and not just with lawn care or snow removal.
“Recently, I just got injured, and I was outside and Jim saw me coming, hobbling along and he asked me what I’d done,” Bywater said. “I told him and he was like, ‘Yeah, come next door, Diane will take a look at you.’ I said all right. It seemed kind of strange at the time … but I didn’t know [Diane] was a massage therapist. The next day, she basically worked on me for free for an hour and a half, and she set me up with some people at DMU to go see.”
And the couple is more than happy to share what they have, because they get something in return.
“I remember Jim and I talked about it and thought it was nice to have young people next door,” Diane said. “As we get older, it’s nice to connect with that different lifestyle and energy. You know, it kind of keeps you vital.”
The connection between the Bakers and Bywaters comes full circle in terms of respect and gratitude.
“I really respect their relationship,” Bywater said. “I respect where they are in life.”
Luckily for Bywater, where they are just so happens to be right next door. ■