My neighbor passed away recently, and I feel like I have lost a family member.

Charlie was an extraordinary man — mostly because of how ordinary his life was. He lived in the same house for over 60 years, a home he built with his bride when they married.

He was retired for the past two decades, but he never sat idle. He would find something to fix, mow, rake or paint, and he was always willing to help a neighbor.

He was the kind of neighbor who left vegetables from his garden on your porch, who would fix your shed door not because you asked him to, but because he saw that it was blowing open during a storm.

He was the first one up during a snowstorm — even in his 80s — and would not only clear our yard, but brush the car off as well. And he was not happy when you tried to pay him (although we always did). He reluctantly gave up his rotary dial phone for the push button model we bought him for Christmas last year so that he could confirm his doctor’s appointments by pressing “#” and “1” — something he could not do on his old phone.

Charlie loved the outdoors and stayed active until cancer took him just days shy of his 87th birthday. He was home until just a few hours before he passed, just the way he would have wanted it.

A week before his death, he was shopping for his ailing wife and arranging with AAA to install a new battery in his car that quit while he was in Shaw’s.

It must have been hard for him knowing he would soon leave his wife of 60-plus years. He fought a gallant battle, never complaining even though the pain of cancer was evident.

I will cherish the hand-carved candle stick and the wooden napkin holder he made for us — he was a true craftsman.

The world needs more neighbors like Charlie Meserve.

I miss him already, and my thoughts have been with his family during this holiday season — their first without him.

Farewell, dear neighbor. Rest in peace. 

Jean Russo is a resident of Portland.