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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 1 – Beginner)
Topic: Trees (12/05/05)

TITLE: Mr. Oaks
By Paul Potenza


Mr. Oaks

He stood silently as we moved into our first new house. He had lived next door for many years. Even without him making any remarks we knew that he welcomed us. He did his best to show us how much he cared. A lot of his friends had come and gone but Mr. Oaks had stayed.

He had a lot of character. Although he was elderly, he was extremely strong. You could tell by looking at him that he had seen his share of troubles, yet he stood ramrod straight.

He was a good neighbor. He actually played with our son Mark when no one else was around. There weren’t a lot of other kids in the neighborhood but this guy never seemed to mind Mark hanging around. In fact, he appeared to enjoy it. He was a good teacher too. He taught our son about living and perseverance and strength and quiet dignity.

He also helped a somewhat skinny boy develop some badly needed upper body strength. He was fun to be around too because he knew some neat tricks. He could predict the seasons and he taught us how to do it too. He taught us a lot about science and often participated in school projects. He was friends with the wild animals and could actually get birds and squirrels to come right up to him and sit on his shoulders.

He had a bit of a mischievous side too. Lots of times he would throw stuff into our yard when we weren’t looking, causing me to have to go out there and rake it up because I could never prove that he had done it. He would just stand there and watch me without comment. Of course he was quite the taskmaster too. During the summers when I told my son to mow the lawn before I got home from work, I could count on Mr. Oaks to stand by and supervise.

And he taught me about God.

Just by watching him I learned that it was O.K. to bend, but never to break. I learned to root myself deeply because when the storms came, and they would come, if you weren’t firmly planted, you would fall.

Everyone should have a neighbor like Mr. Oaks.

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This article has been read 610 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Karen Heslink12/13/05
What a wonderful message. You have really captured the character of Mr. Oaks through your descprtive examples. Well-written. Your conclusion seems to be for all of us. This is one I will read again and again.
Jan Ackerson 12/13/05
This one is definitely a favorite. Beautifully written.
Christine Rhee12/15/05
You have great skill with the pen!
well done!!
Sandra Petersen 12/16/05
This was very inspirational. I am very glad you didn't pull out a surprise ending and tell me you were really talking about a tree, not a person. Let the reader decide if Mr. Oaks was a tree or a real person.
The lesson in the second to last paragraph is well-worded.
I would add, Everyone, especially Christians, should BE a neighbor like Mr. Oaks.
Thank you for sharing this!
Marilyn Schnepp 12/17/05
A nice man wouldn't throw stuff in a neighbor's yard - thus, Mr. Oaks is a tree! I loved it! Great story, great comparisons and a really great job! Kudos!