An old man... the ending of a story...
It’s February, in New England. The weather today is somewhat unforgiving; the snow is blowing and accumulating, the roads are drivable, but certainly not clear. They live in a quaint little New England town; that kind of town where everybody knows your name, and your history. And what came for you in today’s mail. That kind of quirky, quaint little town. They didn’t have much, in fact, they were “poor” … she had wanted to sell their little home, but he just couldn’t do it. He built that home. With his two hands, he built it… a lifetime ago. So, they cancelled things they could, to make what they did have stretch. They got by. “Old” people do that. They know how. Two weeks ago, their Church had a dinner, to celebrate with them their sixtieth anniversary. Sixty years. More than my entire lifetime. Property taxes were due on the 1st, today is the 3rd. Weather? …mmm…. You do what you’ve got to do. Property taxes were due on the 1st, today is the 3rd. But today is Monday, so the 3rd is just fine. And so he ventured out in the weather…down to the Town Hall to pay taxes on the little home that he made for his wife and his family. He was an “old” man… he was 83. She probably didn’t want him to go, perhaps she even worried a little. But for the “older generation” challenge was no stranger. And so he faced the challenge. And she waited, perhaps even prayed. Time passed. And passed. And he did not come home. Oh, he may have seen a familiar face and stopped to exchange a brief “how are you?”, but certainly he would have been back by now.
But the truth would be known, he wasn’t coming back. Ever. His pick-up truck had skidded from the road and hit a tree, where it burst into flames. He was trapped in the truck. Trapped in the flames.
Transition comes. One leaves this world to start a “new” life in the “hereafter” place. Another learns how to live a “new” life here, a life completely void of everything familiar, and secure. Void of the comfort of your life’s best friend, your partner. For sixty years, they faced the challenges, the adversities of life, together. Today, she will face them alone.
The news media had one concern. Being the first to tell the story. Photograph. They took a photograph of the truck at the scene, and posted, simply, that identity was not released yet. They did not leave out, though, that the accident was fatal. Or, that the truck had burst into flames. But they didn’t share that on the news. They shared it on Facebook. God knows, these two people probably never even saw Facebook. Doubtful that they even have a computer. But the close of his life was there, on the pages of total strangers… and as fast as people could hit the buttons, the photograph was shared… and more and more strangers…. Were privy to… this tender, sacred, sad moment in time.
My mind takes a large, soft blanket and covers the truck… takes away the sensationalism that people, like vultures, feed on…
Sixty years of living in this world merits more than that. They deserve better. His memory is worth priceless much more; her pain is worth comforting. He would comfort her now, if only he could.
Nobody seems to “get it” …
How do I say it? If that were your life partner – I mean, real life partner – sixty years is a very long time – or, even more, (God forbid) that were your child, or your parent… would you want the photo splashed across Facebook?
Why would people do that? Sometimes I think we just can’t get enough… there is a void in our souls that should be filled with Godliness and respect and honor… that senses boundaries when it comes to people’s feelings… and doesn’t cross them. I think we fill that void with a hunger for more and more… the more gruesome, the more unbelievable, it’s like a contagion; an addiction. We can’t get enough. And it doesn’t matter who it is. In fact, if it hits close to home, even better.
I am sad tonight.
I am sad because it’s cold. And it’s snowing. And somewhere in a quirky quaint little New England town, a little elderly woman faces the last years of her life alone. I wonder if she is scared. I know she is sad. She’ll handle it. That’s what old people do. The generation before had a fiber we have only read about; a fiber we may have only a thread or two of in ourselves, and a fiber that is totally nonexistent to the generations to follow. She will be there in their home tonight, and contemplate the future. Tomorrow she will face what we all have to face, all of us who are left behind when we lose a loved one…saying “good-bye”; “making arrangements” … the days will come and go… and melt into months. Soon, they will melt into Spring, and then into Summer...
And one day, she too, will journey on, and be once again, with her lifetime partner. Perhaps to continue their life together in a brand new place.