My neighbor Mike is getting bored with living. She’ll be 91 next week, and wants “to curl up like an old dog” in her bed and stay there. I went over for a visit yesterday, and laid beside her talking in the bed. Her husband’s ashes rest under his pillow in an urn beside her every night. Mike does things her way.
We talked about what we think will come next, and both concluded the next leg of our human journey will continue to be mental, as her husband’s ashes testify. She doesn’t want to be old in whatever next place may come, and hopes to continue with her young spirit.
Who knows if we will have another conversation? When a person says they are bored with living, what else can we say? At 91, I’m not going to try and talk Mike out of her final life experiences. We each have our history.
Mike and her husband were my parents’ friends in the good old days of the early neighborhood, and never was there a better friend than Mike. When my mother and father split up because of alcoholism, my mother heard about my father’s suicide in his rented room and she called Mike and her husband. They helped her vacate what my father left behind.
Mike told me she got to the room before my mother, and threw towels over the tiny bloody corner sink because she did not want my mother to see the mess of a bullet to her husband’s brain. Mike cleaned up my father’s suicide. That is a friend. She gave me details yesterday in our conversation, and she remembers everything.
Since I’m the last one living from our small family of four, when I hear another memory about family, it sticks in my soul. My mother chose not tell me about cleaning up my father’s room. It was in my imagination for decades, lingering like a nightmare. Now I know what really happened. Mike helped me put those concerns to rest. It takes courage to tell a daughter about such things and not be judgmental.
We had a clear talk because Mike is straightforward, and I am too. I know she loves me and has treated me like her own ever since I was a little girl. I guess that’s what family really means.
Fortunately, I can still choose Mike for my friend. She has three adult children who love her, and provide anything she needs. Mike lives a simple life, and just wants to curl up like an old dog. Humanity is so human, isn’t it?
This is so personal and yet universal in that we all have faced or will face death of parents and parent figures. Thanks, Pru.