An old man died alone last month. Well, not exactly alone. The only witnesses -- his many canine companions ... each beloved, but mute.
The news came yesterday morning as I sat at my desk, slightly annoyed by yet another interruption: A "shirt-tail" relative of our SIL had been found Monday evening, midst conditions I'll only refer to as "horrific."
Reclusive by choice since his wife's death, "R" was a pleasant enough fellow. Oh, we'd had occasion to brush shoulders now and then at some family get-togethers, but I never really took the time to visit with him.
Like an apparition, he'd appear out of nowhere... sit to the side, watching the children ... then quietly disappear again. A neatly-dressed, shy little man, sporting an oversize crucifix and a sweet smile.
My heart is hurting tonight for DH's daughter and SIL ~ barred (er, protected) by the police from entering his modest house. Guilt-ridden, I suppose, for not thinking to pick up the phone when many days passed without a word. So busy, we presume all is right under the sun.
I think, too, my unrest stems from a fear of dying alone -- no-one the wiser. How isolated we've become from our neighbors, arriving home each evening and burrowing into our little sanctuaries.
Some years ago I heard the story of a lady who, at her husband's casket, leaned down to whisper: "Someday, please tell me what happened."
I'm not big on making resolutions, but I hope this incident serves to make me more aware of my fellow travelers. Don't we owe it to one another?