The Death of a Recluse

His name is unimportant–except that when it is chiseled onto his tombstone it will be for some the only marker of his life. He died alone. At the end of our block. Unsung for the long days and for the long black nights he lay dead in his living room floor. No one sensed it at first, for he had become a recluse, then his ex-wife (or maybe he was still married–not sure) called a neighbor; “He’s not answering the phone. Can you check?”

I said his name is unimportant, but that is only so for this post, for I understand the opposite actually to be true. On the off-chance that any of his family or friends would read here, I don’t want them to be hurt or embarrassed, for he lived a sad, angry life. My neighbor did . . . and he died alone . . . They found him Saturday night. . . only a few yards from our house.

He was a Jew, and, fearing for their lives, his parents had fled Hitler’s regime, making it to Holland where they hid for a period of time. He was a small boy when he was hid away, but he remembered, and he never recovered. I can’t know for sure, but it seems he should have bounced back from the trauma, for his being so embittered mangled his life and wrecked his chance at any positive relationships. But he chose to stay buried in the details of that sordid period of history, and he reveled in recounting the atrocities. He showed us papers and books and told us stories. He warred with most of the neighbors, put up no trespassing signs, installed heavy gates, and set cameras on high poles. He went to court over perceived offenses, and sometimes people took him to court for his odd behavior.

When we moved here, his wife still lived with him–a precious person, whose grown children were furious that she had married him, and who would have nothing to do with him. Jerry and I tried to befriend them, had them in our home several times, and listened to his stories. He gave Jerry books and spoke Hebrew in our living room. He liked Jerry and sometimes hugged him, and we liked him and his wife.

While we were gone to Lake Havasu, his wife moved out of their fine, large house and the gardens that had been the showplace of the neighborhood are now brown and bare. The towering rose bushes and the flowering vines are dead, as are most of the plants she nurtured so tenderly. She used to walk me around the yard and name the plants and tell of their characteristics.

Last Saturday, they found him, and now a big dumpster is in the driveway and a group of people are working through the place.

Have you been hurt? Did someone mistreat you? Have you been wronged? Let it go. Today. You can do that, and you will be a transformed person. Much better to suck it up, turn the page, smile again, and forgive, than to become a recluse . . . and to die alone. . .

9 thoughts on “The Death of a Recluse

  1. Greg the Explorer

    That is one of the most important lessons learned in life – to let go of hurts…so often the counselling and pop-psychology of this world will try to keep people trapped in their pain and anguish, when the very opposite is what is needed – to be freed, to be released and allowed to move beyond hurt, beyond the need to ‘relive’ and rehearse the events that led to a root of bitterness growing from deep within the heart of a person.

    I allowed myself to feed a root of bitterness – a beautiful root it was, well kept and very well fertilised – but it was choking me and killing me, I just didn’t know it. Iy was a well justified rot as well – I had every reason to be bitter and twisted, just like te root winding itself around my heart. It was not until I allowed God to chop down that root, not until I let go of the need to feed, water and tend the bitterness that I was able to move on.

    As horrendous and evil as some things are that are inflicted upon people as they live lives that should be free and innocent – I’m thinking of children here, I detest the commentators who claim “well that is something that will live with them for the rest of their lives” as if it is inevitable that they will of necessity live a half life, that they are now somehow permanently scarred. When we buy into that that we do ourselves a great disservice.

    Thank you for your wisdom Shirley. Love and blessings

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  2. dean

    Thank You for your love shown to the sometimes unloveable. What demons he must have fought. Makes me ever more grateful for the comfort of the Holy Ghost. Bless you for your friendship to him. May his family find comfort.

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  3. HG

    Wow – heavy duty stuff. I’ve NEVER understood why some people cling to bitterness like a precious possession. It seems they never understand that their bitterness is causing more harm to them than to those they are angry with. And – what a burden! I have a huge challenge getting through each day – I can’t even imagine how much energy it takes to keep track of a list of perceived wrongs, so you can maintain your vigil of bitterness.Definitely not worth all that extra work, if you ask me.

    I can think of nothing sadder than living your life in such a way that you can be dead for several days without anybody missing you.

    Thank you for your powerful words.

    I love & admire you,
    HG

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  4. Mervi

    Life can be and is so very sad! The only thing worse than a sad life is for that life to end in such a sad mannor. Sis. Buxton, should you or your wonderful husband be able to recall his stories. Let him live once more in those words.

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  5. Charlotte and Tena, thank you for your concern and for your comments. Indeed, it is so sad, and while I cannot change my neighbor’s life, I can honestly look inside myself to be sure there is no hate or bitterness in me.

    While it is hard to change another person, we must continue to minister to those around us who are so wretched, and so in need of healing.

    Love you both.

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  6. Oh my goodness! This is SO sad! 😦 And SO unnecessary for him to live his ENTIRE life like this! It’s so hard to believe! I’m going to go read your previous post now so I feel happy again. πŸ˜‰

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