Saying Good-bye

My neighbor died on Black Friday. She had lived in the house next door to mine for more than 35 years. Her husband died before I moved in. She showed me the inside of her house once.  It was stuck in the 70’s with shag carpet, gold and rust drapes and wallpaper.

Her living room was filled with mail, scattered all over the carpet.  Her kitchen had ants attacking her loaf of bread. I helped her clean that up and get her bread into the refrigerator.

She rang my doorbell one day, asking for a ride to Safeway. She didn’t drive, even though there was a car in the garage. It had belonged to her husband.

I took her to Safeway, dropped her off, ran to the post office, and then came back to pick her up.  Her cart was filled with TV dinners and cases of Ensure. In the check-out line, she didn’t know her phone number to get the Safeway discount. She didn’t have the discount card and couldn’t find her cash when the cashier said it was $119.00.

I asked if I could look in her purse. Her wallet was empty, but I rooted around and found a white envelope filled with twenty-dollar bills. I gave the cashier six of them while my neighbor stood and watched.

We got the groceries loaded, and I took my neighbor home. She didn’t have a house key but went in through the side door to the garage when I suggested it.

The next day her daughter called and asked me to not take her mother to the store anymore.  The TV dinners were filled with salt, and her mom needed to eat real food, not just drink Ensure. I promised I wouldn’t take her agin.

A week went by, and the neighbor rang my doorbell.

“Could you give me a ride to Safeway?” she asked.

She had on a stylish, if short, jacket. She had her purse on her shoulder and her tennis shoes on her feet. But her legs were bare. And she was wearing Depends underwear.

“You’ve got great legs,” I said, “but you have to wear pants. Plus, your daughter, Teri,  says I can’t take you anymore.”

Instead of going home to put on pants, my neighbor walked the neighborhood, ringing other doorbells, still looking for a ride.

I called the daughter. Little did we know that this was the beginning of the end. Several months later, after trying to hire care givers to help her mom, Teri had to move her mom into a nursing home.

“Get out of my house!” I heard the neighbor screaming at the terrifed care givers. 

“Get off my property!” she screamed the next time they came.

Teri told her mom tha t if she didn’t take her meds, she would have to move. It was Alzheimer’s. She was almost 90.

I didn’t see my neighbor again. The house sat empty for over two years. I know that because my lab puppy got big, and sometimes on the way back from the park with my dog off-leash, my neighbor would come walking down the sidewalk, and I was afraid my dog would knock her down.

Pepper is now five years old. I’ve since gotten a second dog, almost three years ago. My neighbor was already gone by then.

The poor lady.  She was so nice to me and my daughter when we moved in back in 2011.

Leilani, you had a good long life.  May you rest in peace.

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