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. . .