Tuesday, January 18, 2011


The Matron lives next door to a couple married many, many years. Decades. They're in their 80s and the husband -- let's call him Ralph -- is dying.

The fact that he's dying at 84, hospitalized for congestive heart failure three times now, is mildly overlooked by his wife of 50 some years.

Neighbor (wife): "Oh, Ralph is doing great. He's home from the hospital with the oxygen machine and we're going to McDonald's for breakfast."

John and Stryker shovel their driveway and sidewalks. The Matron now sleeps with the phone at her beside, waiting for the late night call.

She goes over morning and night to administer eye-drops and medication.

Lest she sound saint-like, this is all ten minutes a day. But there's the heart involved.

Theses people who have been together for fifty years still hold hands. They wanted --but never had -- children. They've welcomed hers into their lives with joy. They're good for Dairy Queen Treats, cat visits, and complete love.

Neighbor: "I'm a little worried about Ralph. If I need you, can I call?"

Matron: "Yes. Yes, you can."

The Matron has dropped the ball on many, many things lately. She's resigned as the Presiden of the Parent Teacher Organization at her youngest's school. She's failed to follow through in all kinds of ways as she waits for tenure (Please Oprah) and juggles the full-time job with all the rest. She even took nearly a week off from the blog!

But she's still will have the phone by her bedside.

And bear witness to 50 years of commitment and love. May she be so lucky.


Jen on the Edge said...

Neighbors like you describe are wonderful. We had some like that and they were like grandparents to our children. He passed away two years ago, but she's still around and my girls adore her.

You are a wonderful woman to be so involved with your neighbors -- I'm sure they must really appreciate all that you do.

Cheri @ Blog This Mom!® said...

I'm all choked up. In a good way.


Anonymous said...

Oh, bless them and bless you during this final chapter of his life.

Jennifer said...

Bless you for worrying about your neighbors. For the first time in our lives, we live in a neighborhood where our neighbors are friendly and everybody helps each other out. I didn't realize how important that sort of a culture was until I experienced it. I am so thankful for it, and I'm sure your neighbors are glad you are just next door.

I could be wrong, but a catch a hint of frustration or embarrassment in your mentioning that you have "dropped the ball on so many things lately". Please don't beat yourself up for this. In the past couple of years, I have had to choose how to spend my time and have therefore had to quit on projects mid-year. I felt terrible and actually hid out for a while because I was afraid of what people might think. Then I realized that the people who actually *got it* weren't upset; the people who were cranky about it were never going to see things from my perspective or be the gentle sorts I wanted to spend time with, anyhow. So go easy on yourself. You're putting the people and projects that matter most, first. You are doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Yes, it is sweet but denial is a terrible way to enter the loss of a loved one. Has Ralph made a living will? Do they both have regular wills? Is Mrs. Ralph up-do-date on their financial matters? Does she have any clue what she will do when he is gone? If they have taken care of those matters, THEN she can be all hopeful and positive.

Deb said...

They are blessed to have you.

I have a friend a few streets away that I feel the same way about. Never mind the 30 year age difference, she's the cross between a mother and a friend. Sadly, one of her best friends died last week at the age of 93. My friend seems lost and I'm not sure how to help her. Last night we had a phone discussion of what she did and did not want at her funeral...based on what she had just seen. "Oh, I only know what I don't want, I can't seem to decide what I do want!" She only has one son living on the west coast and doesn't want to leave it to him. We laughed, and have made a plan to get together and write down what we do want. I told her I'd write mine, too, and we could compare notes.

I'm going to really miss her when the time comes. I hope it is not too soon.

Daisy said...

Wishing you peace as Ralph's situation progresses. Your neighbors are lucky to have you; you already know you're lucky to have them.

JCK said...

Lovely. These life altering changes and connections with other human beings...nothing like it. Special.

Karen (formerly kcinnova) said...

I think, perhaps, that you "dropped the ball" on some things so that your time could be freed up for this important task given to you.