Friday, July 31, 2009
Rest In Peace, Dear Man
He was a 1960’s neighbor – the kind of over-the-fence chats for 45 minutes instead of a wave from across the street. He watched over my family while I watched over him. From the window in one of my bedrooms I could see him sitting on his sun porch. When we happened to realize that the other was looking, we would both grin and wave.
When I first met him eleven years ago, his dear wife was stepping towards Alzheimer’s, and he was photographing every moment in his mind. They were both in their late 70’s and had been married since they were 17 years old. They were two hearts and two souls joined in the way the rest of us dream about.
On July 4th several years ago, he lost his other heart, and from that point on his smiles were few and far between. But, they were always there for me and my family.
He needed a little help, and I needed to help. Every time I sent a meal to him, he would return the empty dishes filled with candy for my children. I planted the flowers in his front garden, and he watered them religiously. Together we attended the funerals of other neighbors, and for a special treat, he loved to take my family to lunch at Red Lobster.
In recent years, I watched his health decline, but he stubbornly refused to give in to infirmity. He was hard-headed and constantly told me to stop helping him so much, but I knew he secretly enjoyed the attention and companionship. He remembered what life was like in the slower, quieter past. He remembered a time of neighbor helping neighbor. He possessed the gentleman gene, and although it was difficult for him to rely on others, he eventually realized the need.
Just four short weeks ago, he was diagnosed with brain cancer, an insipid beast that would send him to be with his wife sooner rather than later. The doctors told him there was no hope and that he had two weeks to two months into which to pack the rest of his life. The first week wasn’t too bad. The second got a little worse, and by the third and fourth, he just wanted to go. He was tired, sick, in pain, and feeling like a burden to everyone.
This morning, he got his wish. Mr. Ed Baldwin took his last drugged and pain-free breath at 6:55 am. He was reunited with his lovely wife, Dot, and I will miss him very, very much.