When I was 8 we moved into a new house in a new state. School was 2 months away and with no friends I spent that summer exploring my new, huge, yard that had one very flat section half the size of a football field and an enormous old tree that I was eyeing for climbing.
One day early on I found a pair of dentures in the dirt under the tree. I was 8 so they went in my pocket.
That’s when The Old Man, we shall call him TOM, started waving at me. I would see TOM in the yard walking around. He always wore a Hawaiian button down that was a little faded and outdoor sandals with shorts. He had gray hair, glasses, and a close mouthed smile that was very friendly. Before anyone says this is weird, this was a tiny town in the country 25 years ago. Yards were large but connected mostly without fences. It wasn’t unusual to see people walking around. And it felt safe.
I saw him for years. Once, when I was 11, I was outside with my dad and saw TOM near one of the barns in the orchard so I waved. My dad asked me who I was waving at, and so I pointed at TOM and said, “him”. I don’t have to tell you guys that my dad didn’t see anyone, right? That was when I realized something was amiss with TOM. I didn’t mention him to anyone again.
One day after mowing our elderly neighbors yard for them I was invited into their house for the first time. While sipping a lemonade and looking at the pictures they had all over their house I saw someone familiar. He was younger in the photo, but it was TOM. “I know him!” I said, pointing, forgetting my personal rule. They exchanged an amused look.
Yep. TOM used to live in our house. The original owner, best friends with the couple next door, and gardener. The huge flat piece of the yard by the huge old tree used to be an enormous garden. He retired and spent his days gardening and napping in a chair under the tree. It was his happy place. One day he lay back in his chair and fell asleep, never to wake up. Not a bad way to go if you ask me. TOM wore dentures and had lost a set at one point. When I was around 14 I tossed the dentures and stopped seeing TOM. But I still think about him often.
Originally submitted to Reddit by SarcasticallySimon
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