When I learned that a neighbor we know rather well died Monday morning, I wondered how my daughter would take the news.
Anne lived two doors up from us with her husband of 50 years. She was seen almost daily sitting at one of her front windows, sipping a soda and smoking a cigarette as people came and went. In the warmer months, she’d often venture out for walks or sit on the porch across the street with another neighbor sharing a pitcher of iced tea and chatting.
Amber arrived home from school and I said, “You know Mrs. L?”
“She died, didn’t she?” Amber responded almost immediately. Jeez, how did she know I was going to tell her that?
“Yes, honey, she did,” I replied.
We took a walk after dinner. As we approached our block we noticed the front door open to her home. I suggested we check in on Mr. L, a quiet, laid-back man who helps people in a pinch. The kids and I gave our condolences. I let Mr. L know we were here to help if he needed anything, be it a meal or an errand.
“We could bring up some spaghetti and sausage,” Amber told him. “We had some for supper. Would you like some?”
I smiled. My daughter always tries to look on the bright side of things.
Mr. L smiled too, and said that was nice of her. He noted how he would have to learn how to do some things around the house that Anne used to do, and that while it would be hard, he would get by.
“I could help you bake,” Amber chimed in. “I want to take a baking class at Kids College this summer.”
The class is being offered at Penn State Schuylkill campus, one of a few programs children can take on for a week this summer. We’ll see about that one.
Anne was laid to rest today. I paid my respects at the funeral home before heading to work. Amber said she wanted to go, but I told her the service would be happening while she was at school. Instead, maybe we could check in on Mr. L a little later. She was fine with that.
Our next-door neighbors’ mother died two years ago, and Amber attended her memorial service with me. I remember Amber accepted her death well, too. A great-aunt died late last year, and while Amber knew her, she wasn’t greatly affected by her passing. Truly, the only death that has really made an impact on her was our dog, Buddy. She still cries about him, particularly if she’s upset, and we talk about him almost every day.
In fact, Buddy’s name came up when we visited with Mr. L on Monday.
“You know my dog Buddy died,” Amber told him. Mr. L said that he knew.
“Oh, and you know what?” I suggested. “I’ll bet Mrs. L and Buddy are sitting together right now keeping an eye on the neighborhood.”
Amber giggled. I think she liked that idea. I did, too. I could see my canine, who loved to sit at the front screen door and keep an eye on things, sitting alongside Mrs. L, who also liked to keep an eye on things in her neighborhood.
Rest in peace, Anne. You will be missed.