Many of you remember my Smyrna neighbor Opal. She’s a legend, and she is the person who taught me how to keep my yard looking nice, along with planting maple trees and blowing leaves out of my gutters. Cocoa loved Opal from the first moment she saw her, and she still does.

Every Sunday evening Opal would drop by the house and watch television with us. Over the years, we have cried together,  laughed together, and battled ice storms together. We have eaten ice cream together, celebrated Christmas and Thanksgiving together, and rounded up stray cats together. When I changed jobs and moved to northeast Georgia, Opal was one of the  reasons that I did not want to go. Where could we possibly find another Opal—someone who totally loved dogs, walked two miles a day, and baked awesome banana bread? Best friends can’t be replaced.

Sometimes on summer afternoons, Cocoa and I would walk down to see Opal and we would end up sitting on her carport and talking. It wouldn’t be long before other friends would drop by and join us.

Cocoa and Chip in Opal’s backyard waiting for me to return.

Here is Opal with Cocoa when she was just a couple of months old. I called her my “baby bean” as in a Cocoa bean. She was so chocolate.

When Cocoa was young, she loved to sit at the end of the driveway and watch for Opal. If you look closely you can see her and Betty at the left. They were getting ready to cut a dead limb out of a dogwood tree.