A couple of weeks ago, I was in the kitchen making dinner when I suddenly thought about my former neighbour. He lived in the house right beside ours when we moved to Toronto. I remember the first summer, my parents were sitting out in the backyard. They just used the chairs from our kitchen. I think my neighbour offered to bring over his lawn chairs or he just did. The next day or next weekend, he purchased a set of lawn furniture for us.
He was a typical middle class father, proud of his job as a school principal and his family. Throughout the years, he was a good neighbour and got along with our family. Decades later, his wife had passed away. Sometimes he hung out with my dad to chat or to have a few drinks. Eventually his drinking started to affect his health and I think he suffered from dementia. His daughters moved him to a retirement home.
Then a couple of weeks ago, he just popped into my mind. I had not thought of him for years. I remember thinking I wonder what happened to him. That was it. Then a few days ago, my sister (who still lives in the house), heard that he had passed away just a couple of weeks ago. What an odd coincidence. Or was it?
I attended a funeral recently. The person who passed was the mother of a casual friend. I didn’t know the mom or the family. This friend is a close friend of my sister in law and they had grown up together. There were some touching stories told of the mom who came to Canada from Scotland. She loved Canada and was proud of her Scottish heritage. By all accounts she was a strong woman who made a lot of friends, enjoyed her sherry (a large glass) each night, had an incredible memory and loved to dance.
At the conclusion of the service, the minister said when we pass, we leave something of us behind. The lives we have touched, the memories we have created, the friends we have made – essentially a life well lived. We stood, watched a Scottish bagpiper played Amazing Grace and led the casket out to the hearse.
And while I don’t mean to dive into some self pity moment, I wonder what people will say at my funeral. Whose lives have I touched? Oh well, that’s not for me to worry about now I suppose. Do you folks think about this at all?
It was a warm, sunny late afternoon. As I approached the intersection, I saw several police cruisers. Just beyond the cruisers were the yellow police tapes. There were several policemen standing around. Then I saw the body. It was covered with a pink orange blanket from an ambulance.
Was it a homicide? An accident? An overdose? There are quite a few homeless people in the area. Was it one of them?
A few hours later, on my way home, I passed the intersection. The police cars were all gone. The yellow tapes were on the ground and the area where the body was wet. It had been hosed down. After I crossed the street, the skies opened up with a heavy rain. I was drenched by the time I got my umbrella out from my knapsack.
I checked the news sites and police reports when I got home. But there weren’t any reports. Nothing. Whoever it was – rest it peace.
This is a beautifully written story by Catherine Porter formerly of the Toronto Star. I took a peek at the story and couldn’t divert my attention.
What’s weird is that at a webinar this morning, there was a demonstration about putting your life’s priorities first before taking on the other less important but time consuming tasks. People were given a empty bowl along with 2 bowls. One had small gravel representing the many urgent but not important tasks in life. The other bowl had large rocks representing things like health, passion, love, family – the important things in life. They had to fill the empty bowl with the contents from those 2 bowls without going over the top of the bowl.
Of course, if you filled the bowl first with the small gravel, you couldn’t add all the big rocks in. The trick is to put the big rocks in first and then pour the small gravel so they fall all around spaces left by the big rocks.
Sometimes I think life sends us messages in many different ways.
I got an email a few weeks ago that my uncle passed away. I didn’t know him that well. He had 2 wives and growing up, we only saw the cousins from his first wife. There were already emails alerting us that his health was very poor and he was already on “do not resuscitate”. So his passing wasn’t a surprise. I think my relatives are relieved that my uncle passed away in his sleep. His physical suffering is now over.
A few weeks ago, I was messaging with a friend from Xanga. We had chatted a few months ago and he told me he was expecting his second child in February. I didn’t hear anything from him so I emailed him. So he messaged me back the next day with updates and pictures of his baby boy. He also chided me for not having Facebook where he posts all his updates. His baby boy looks exactly like him. I liked the photo where he and his daughter are both kissing his son. We chatted for awhile. I then told him I needed to make dinner. He told me his daughter was cuddling him while he’s feeding his baby boy. It reminded me at one point in my life, I wanted to have a child. I feel sad that I can’t make that dream a reality.
Life goes on.
My sister told me one of her neighbours passed away. I didn’t really know him. No one did. He lived alone and did everything on his own. He moved in after I moved out so I don’t know much about him. It’s a sad case. The police broke into the house when a relative couldn’t get in touch with him. I was told the house was a mess, covered with garbage, cat feces and dirt. The neighbours helped out with the lawn, shoveling the snow, wiring etc… but apparently he’s not a sociable guy. I think he was a recovering alcoholic. There won’t a funeral. Aside from that relative, I don’t think he had any friends. No one visited.
I worry I will end up like that man.