By the time I came home that day there were already six vehicles in front of the tiny condo that is our neighbour’s – an ambulance, a fire truck, two Emergency 911 vehicles and two paramedic trucks – but they could have brought every life-saving unit this side of the moon and it wouldn’t have mattered because a few days later, at hospital, the plug had to be pulled and death took its natural course, anyway.
There was no pulling the woman back.
It was a dramatic scene, her on the floor, Kevin, her son, screaming at the 911 operator, for God’s sake, my mother is dying, before another neighbour – Kevin had pounded on several doors – came to help. And then, with the wires hooked up for those few days, the prayers.
And while she had lived her Three Score and Ten years, and then a few more, there is still a certain tragedy to this because she left behind our dear neighour, Kevin, an adult son who lived with her and was as reliant as any adult son could be of his mother – he needed help figuring out the washing machine the other day – and she also left behind her husband, Kevin’s step-father, who, a stroke survivor of a couple of years earlier, also received care from his aging wife.
Yes, for the longest time it was three of them together.
The father is now already in a nursing home.
Kevin will go to a group home after this weekend.
But his faith is strong – he gave me some Gospel blues the other day, as rugged and deep and hopeful as any Gospel blues can be. And now he’s asked that we come over tomorrow, Saturday – of course we will – for the memorial service which is being held right there in the living room of the tiny place where she fell.
All the more interesting, Saturday is the day, virtually the hour, that we are opening the doors of our own little condo – we’re almost close enough to spit over to Kevin’s – for Jon’s extended family birthday party.
An old life is celebrated in the grief of passing. A young one, in joy.
Yes, our son Jon is now 9 and we are incredibly proud of him and I could write at length about this, but I’ll simply say I’m maybe proudest of Jon these days for the way he has befriended the two boys directly across from Kevin’s, the place where the Dad is recovering from cancer.
I shared about this here and here, about Gary, and his miraculous recovery after Jean and I visited him on what, to all appearances, was his deathbed. We had prayed, along with others, and within a few days Gary was out of ICU, and then asking for his laptop in his next hospital room, and then, after chemo and other treatment, eventually, not a hair on his wrinkled head, released home for recovery.
Last week Gary asked if Jon could come with his family – Gary drove – to African Lion Safari. The other day, he took Jon with the family’s retreat at their trailer at an nearby park.
“Jon has been so great for the boys. He’s a such good kid,” Gary, so thin now, said while I stood in his doorway the other day.
The scoffers, of course, will say prayer has nothing to do with any of this, that Kevin prayed, after all, and his mother is still dead and why would one prayer be answered and the other not?
But even “no,” for one reason or another, is an answer. Every parent knows this.
Even the hopeless ones.