Bad neighbors can make your life miserable. Fortunately, Jo Ann and I have been blessed by living with good ones. At the top of the list would have to be my mother, who lived in the other half of the double home where Jo Ann and I lived for the first 14 years of our marriage.

We had great neighbors in our old place, and the same can be said for the people in our current neighborhood. Sadly, a neighbor from each place died in the past few months.

We were shocked to pick up the newspaper and read that Jeffrey Scheuren had died at the much-too-young age of 41 on May 8. Jeff lived directly across the street from us in a home that was occupied for many years by his grandparents, Marshall "Motzy" and Betty Hornberger.

Jeff was a great deal like Motzy, which is the highest compliment that can be paid a neighbor. He always made time to stop and talk. If he saw you working on something, he would volunteer to help. He never complained about his health problems. In all the years we knew him, he never seemed to be in a bad mood, let alone angry.

The world was left poorer in kindness and gentleness with Jeff Scheuren's death.

A week ago, on July 13, we lost a dear neighbor, Mary Catherine Lazarski. The health problems she had been facing so bravely at last proved too much for her.

Coincidentally, just like Jeff, Mary and her husband, Bob, live directly across the street from our home. They were among the first to welcome us to our new neighborhood. When my mother died, Mary brought over a homemade cake. She and Bob had a standing offer that they were there for us if we ever needed anything.

Jo Ann and I knew that she had been a registered nurse, but we learned from her obituary that she also taught remedial math and reading at Mount Carmel Area. Both were professions where she loved to help others.

However, we were not surprised to find several of the people who commented on Mary's online guest book that accompanies her obituary that they thought she was a "very special lady." Quite a few of her former neighbors from Centralia reinforced that view by attending their old friend's funeral Mass.

The world was left poorer in generosity, compassion and friendliness with Mary Lazarski's death.

The deaths of Jeff and Mary left huge holes in the hearts of their family and friends, but the way they lived their lives should assure them a place in heaven with God.

We pray that one day we will be their neighbors once again.

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Being a neighbor

is love's labor.