Saturday in CinCity
Our neighbor died this week. Truth be told, I didn't really like him all that much. He was a bit rude, perhaps just socially inept, but enough times and in just the right spots to be hurtful. The couple's about 15 years older than we are. Too old to be similiar to older siblings, not quite old enough to be the next generation, but not Baby Boomers either. Who knows...maybe we're those pesky younger cousins coming in to disrupt the status quo of the street.
But lately, when his wife would see me walking the dog or in the grocery store she had questions about his chemotherapy and gave me the latest numbers on hemoglobin and hematocrit, platelet counts, number of units of packed red blood cells, and corresponding blood pressures. She confided she was ready for hospice, but he wasn't. And unasked, but clearly standing right next to us, how long do we have?
Hubby and I went in when asked with wheelchair assistance and that last evening to help position his head to ease his breathing. It wasn't till his eulogy that I had any knowledge of this gentleman's history. His barfight at seven in the morning during the early 1950's and a subsequent visit to a New Orlean's jail till he could come up with two hundred dollars. His sister-in-law's delight in being "always treated like a lady" by him, constantly opening doors for her, bringing food to her. His wife bought him flying lessons as a gift, because "he wasn't a very good driver, too distracted. I thought this would be good for him." He didn't enjoy music, unabashedly slept during the symphonies, but had a soft spot for musical theater.
He was a guru to my hubby and some of the other men on the street because he always had a home project going on, ones that were usually considered very impractical by the neighborhood wives, but by God, he was going to have them done.
His favorite song was the postlude at his memorial service. I don't believe I'll ever hear it quite the same way again.
They Sit Together on the Porch
by Wendell Berry
They sit together on the porch, the dark
Almost fallen, the house behind them dark.
Their supper done with, they have washed and dried
The dishes--only two plates now, two glasses,
Two knives, two forks, two spoons--small work for two.
She sits with her hands folded in her lap,
At rest. He smokes his pipe. They do not speak,
And when they speak at last it is to say
What each one knows the other knows. They have
One mind between them, now, that finally
For all its knowing will not exactly know
Which one goes first through the dark doorway, bidding
Goodnight, and which sits on a while alone.
please note: photo by CheyAnne Sexton, newmexicomtngirl on Flickr