Saturday, January 10, 2009

Life is always full of suprises.

For good or bad sometimes life throws things at you that surprises you. When I moved to Alabama a little over a year ago I was pretty sad as I sold my first real home. A house I bought for myself with my money really the first thing I ever owned all mine. Mind you it was a tiny house but with the help of Connor's dad we put a ton of sweat labor into it and it became something really special. I even painted one of the bedrooms purple, my favorite color and you know what.. I could.. because it was mine. I even had the most wonderful neighbor you could imagine. I'm still not sure if I miss the house or him more as there is something a bit comforting knowing that the person living next to you will help you out even at 2am when your pipes burst or when the police come barreling into your house at 4am and bust in all your doors (that's a whole other story).

Not saying that my neighborhood was perfect nor was my house (ok it was pretty darn close if you subtract the fact that the spare bedrooms were smaller than an average walk in closet) the neighbors on the other side of me were the bain of my existence at times and the street in front of my house could get busy mid day. Speaking of neighbours two houses down to my right were a couple that made an impression the first day we moved in. They were screaming at the family across the street and I made a joke and yelled back through my window the day we moved in. Heh.. It was the perfect first moment in my new house. Mr Sylvester and his wife made for great neighbours they were friendly, had an awesome collection of power tools that they were always willing to loan you for your house projects. They also had some great yard sales where I bought my first set of patio furniture and some great celtic crosses which I spray painted black and still hang on my wall today. I knew that Mr Sylvester had a past that involved some run in with the law but to be strait with you I knew he was a fabulous neighbour and he never left me feeling uncomfortable. Quite the opposite he was a constant source of entertainment as he loved to swim in his pool in a speedo which I could see from my bedroom window and it always made me laugh to see a 50+ year old man floating around in a tiny swimsuit.

Sorry to sound as if I'm rambling but I am getting to a point I promise. Needless to say when I heard that the police in my old town shot and killed a robber on the interstate I felt a little nauseous as those same police had guns pointed at me almost two years ago. Not that I have ever done anything wrong in my life to make a long story short they got a call someone was being held hostage and had the wrong house... ugg. What I didn't expect was the fact that the man they shot was indeed my old neighbour which all seems a bit surreal. So then that makes me think what brings my neighbour, the one that was all too happy to let me borrow his table saw or power drill. The one that I watched play with his grand kids in his pool and loved fixing up his back yard. What I'm having a hard time with is the fact that he was gunned down just a few blocks away from my old school. Even more so I have a hard time believing regardless of what this man's past was that he was capable of shooting at the police.

Not that I'm saying I blame the police officers. Connor's dad is a police officer now ironically even though two years ago I would have told you that Bloomington IL police are completely out of their mind and need some help but I think that's one of the reasons Connor's dad is a police officer now. Part of the reason I encouraged it as its one of those professions that need good men, and women, ones that actually care. With all that in mind when Robert Sylvester got out of his car with a gun regardless if he fired a shot or not I can't blame those police officers for shooting him as the motto is always come home alive. What's hard for me is the fact that I know the other side of the story, the thing those officers couldn't have known. Though I can't tell you why he did it or if he robbed those stores he is accused of robbing I can tell you that Robert Sylvester was no angel... but he was certainly a good neighbour.

I know he had a record, I know he occasionally got into fights with his girlfriend (who I believe is now his wife), but if I have learned anything in this life thus far is there are two sides to every story. My condolences go out to Mr. Sylvester's family. You know the weird thing is.. in the pictures I almost didn't recognize him. I mean it looks like him... but a rougher more troubled version. It makes you wonder what happened.


Anonymous said...

So true Angela. This just reinforces one of the lessons my mother taught me. There is good in everyone; even the "lowly" criminal. That good may manifest itself as a good son, someone who helps out the elderly, does volunteer work or is a good neighbor.
Everyone does indeed have something good inside them. This same man would not have considered hurting you or your family.
I'm so sorry for your loss; I can imagine how you feel.
A very thought provoking and worthwhile post Angela; thank you.

Jackie said...

I can't help feeling a little sad after reading your post. We cross paths with so many people in our lives...some good, some bad, some you just never know. Thanks for sharing this story.

Anonymous said...

This sounds so much like my life in the past year, it's crazy. Right down to the neighbors, the old house and the cops. I only moved 12 miles away but sometimes it feels a world away. My new neighborhood (actually old as I grew up in this house) doesn't have the same sort of feeling. The neighbors don't help you out. I remember last year when I was 9 months pregnant and out shoveling the snow. My neighbor waved and said "good luck". In the old house I would have had at least 2 or 3 people volunteering to shovel for me.

I guess the previous poster was correct when she said there is good in everyone. Although what happened with your old neighbor must feel so strange I'm sure it is nice to know that you knew a better side of him. I, like you, just wonder what took him down that road. It's sad.

Unknown said...

Its just a bit surreal.. he was always so good to us and I knew he had a "past" but I've always lived by the rule someone's past is not who they are.. who they are is what they are as people change people grow... its just always so weird to see someone you knew to be such a good person in that situation. No one is even sure he did what they say he did.. and from all the reports I dont think he ever fired at the cops that shot him... not that they shouldn't have shot him he had a gun.. but what happened in the short time I was gone to bring my neighbor who was always willing to lend a hand to standing in the middle of the interstate with a gun? I'm sure everyone who saw that news story thought.. hey that guy is crazy. Sure he may have had a rough patch while I've been gone but I can't say that he was every crazy. I never felt unsafe or worried or even remotely uncomfortable. Actually my old street was pretty comfortable for a working class area other than the busy street in the front I would have felt more than comfortable letting Connor play in the front yard and I took so many walks with him alone when he was a newborn... So when you see things like that it just sort of leaves you with a icky taste in your mouth. Like how on earth does that happen? I guess in a way we are all raise to think that people are good.. or bad... not the many shade of grey that can happen in a person's lifetime. Even now, even if he did rob those stores, I still cannot classify Mr Sylvester as bad... only I can wonder what series of events lead to that moment.

Mmm.. It's just really quite sad..

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