Robert Frost was wrong. Growing up as a kid on Guilford Lane in Oklahoma City, we had a fence with our neighbors, the Crosbys. But we didn’t need one. There was Dr. Crosby. All the grown-ups called him Mel but when I saw him this summer at my Dad’s 80th birthday party I still called him “Doctor Crosby.” There is his wife Joanne who shared the same name as my mom, always ready with a smile and a chocolate chip cookie. Then there is Sarah, my second sister. She and I played football, raced matchbox cars and smoked grapevine together. A kid couldn’t have gotten better neighbors out of central casting.
Doctor Crosby died this past weekend. He had been in Dallas the previous weekend for the OU/Texas game when he suffered a massive stroke. I only wish he had been able to watch the Sooners dismantle the Longhorns that next day but, as we know, tomorrow is promised to no one.
His funeral was Tuesday. I missed it because I was waiting for a Judge to call me to trial on a case about which I will not remember the result or the issues six months from now. But I’ll remember Dr. Crosby.
He was a respected OB/Gyn and professor at OU Health Sciences Center. He did ground breaking work on the effects of safety belts on pregnant baboons. He went to Stanford and he was revered by many.
But I never really knew any of that. To me he was just the perfect neighbor. When my Dad was on the road I felt more secure knowing he was right next door. He took me to an OU football game and swimming at Faculty House when I was a kid and had no business going to either one. He and my Dad would often joke about yard work, and wives, and kids. I was Dennis the Menace to his Mr. Wilson.
When my wife was pregnant with our first child I was worried because she had had a few glasses of wine before we found out she was pregnant. I wanted Dr. Crosby’s professional opinion on whether we should prepare for massive birth defects. He laughed and told me that his own Mom drank a couple of shots of bourbon every night she was pregnant with him. I’m not sure whether it was true but it had the intended effect. I stopped worrying. Dr. Crosby had a wonderful way of doing that. Giving you a sense of comfort. What a gift and what a neighbor. Rest in peace good neighbor. And thank you.