I’ve been getting acquainted with an elderly neighbor over the past 18 months or so. Two neighbors, L. and J., in particular, were attentive to him and his wife for many years. He had sold property to L. 10 years ago, and L. eventually became like a daughter to them. Both neighbors are incredibly competent and generous women.
I got to know B. when, after his wife G. died, B. needed more attention. I enjoyed taking supper to him on Wednesday evenings and chatting with him. Having lived in the neighborhood for 60+ years, he knew a lot about how the neighborhood developed. We gossiped about the townhouses being built on the block and the tenants or lack of tenants in the duplex next door to B.
B. lived through the Depression, served in WWII, worked for a lumber yard, and the City of Seattle, and as a cross-country trucker. He and his wife traveled all over the world after he retired, so he had lots of stories. He usually had a pithy take on any work or personal issue I talked to him about.
Often times J., L., and I would meet at B.’s in the evening after work. Although B. couldn’t get about very well, he could get along well enough to stay at home which was important to him.
Tho’ he had several hard surgeries, through L. and J.’s efforts, B. stayed in his home, and had contact with people. It seems so many people who live to be nearly 100 have left so many people behind that they end up alone and institutionalized.
When G. died B. had lost the last thing that really held him in the world, but he is not a man who ever gave up on anything, so despite his being ready to pass on for a long time, he hung in.
Until yesterday afternoon when, on the first day of spring, he died. He was home, as he wanted to be, in a bed that looked out at his magnificent red rhododendron.
J. saw him the night before, and had written an email Friday morning saying that B. was animated, talkative, and even took a shot of whiskey with her.
Goodbye, B. I never intended to like you as much as I do. I miss you.