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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Quiet

The old man across the street has moved back into his home.

Recently, after his wife died, he decided to sell his house and move into a retirement community. It was a new stage of life. He was ready.

I've often watched this man and his wife during the past ten years. They had to be in their eighties. They didn't leave their home much, but, then again, with all the therapy happening in our house, neither did I.

Over the years, there has been so much chaos around me. So much activity. So many fires to put out. So much noise. And, often as I was running from therapy for one son in one room to therapy for another son in another room, I would catch sight of the old man through our kitchen window.

Bent at the waist and shuffling, he would see the second the mailman arrived. He always knew. Was he watching for the mail? Did he wait? Was that part of his day, waiting for the mail? I would sigh and think about the quiet life of waiting for the mail.



These neighbors had a son around my age. I'm not sure exactly of his diagnosis, but I did know that he was living in a psychiatric care unit in town. In time, this son was no longer able to visit the couple. Was he too large and strong for them? Too volatile? All of the above? I'm not sure.

Two years ago, the old man's wife died. Her health had been failing. He buried her and returned to his house, now empty. And, he continued to live there, shuffling out to the mailbox when the mailman arrived with his daily mail.

We would wave or chat once in a blue moon.

One day a "For Sale" sign appeared in his yard, and he hired a company to help him clear forty years of life out of his house. Within two weeks, he was onto his new stage of life, and the house sat empty while life continued to swirl around me here across the street. I would pass by my kitchen window and miss seeing the old man as the mail arrived each day.

After three months, the "For Sale" sign came down, and our former neighbor returned. He couldn't cover the cost of both a house that didn't sell and the retirement home. So, he returned and was here to stay.

I brought him dinner. I left the kids in the house for too long with someone who wasn't fully prepared, I crossed our street and I rang his doorbell. Stepping into his home, I entered hallways of memories of a long life. About to turn ninety, he was hanging once more the pictures of loved ones who were no longer with him.

No wife. No visiting children. Just a kind old man with time on his hands enough to watch for the mailman.

I stayed for a while--too long, not wanting to think of what our kids were doing to the poor respite worker across the street in our own home. I knew whatever was happening, it was going to be chaotic. And, perhaps chaotic was not so bad.

I had been spending a good bit of time mentally wishing away the present, hoping for the days when life would quiet down for us. Now I was thinking that, perhaps there was such a thing as a life that was too quiet.

An hour later, we ended our visit, and I made my way across the street, hoping the old man could stretch dinner into a couple lunches as well. Leftovers are always a good thing.

So, too, I decided, was living in the moment.


This entry was written in response to the letter prompt "Q" in the Blogging A to Z Challenge 2012.

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19 comments:

  1. What a lovely reminder of how we often wish away our present time. Always searching or working for what's around the corner. With only one child, I often reminded myself to "stay in the moment" as I knew this particular life stage was never going to be shared by me again with another child. It was one of the greatest gifts of knowing we were going to have an only child had for me and I consider myself very fortuante to have realized it. I hope you've gone back to visit your neighbor both for yourself and for him. Maybe you've been added to his watch list along with the mailman. :)

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    1. If he's watching for me, he's in trouble. Young one is home bound. If we go out it is pretty irregular. Ahhh, it's a stage. We'll get there.

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  2. ok Amy McMunn Schindler........i am so bawling right now.......GEeeeeeeeeeesh

    ((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))

    yup this is what life is all about..you
    said it perfectly..like everyone else i am
    reading this morning..yours..truly hit my heart

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  3. oh thank God for people like you--your post mad me so sad--i think about getting that old a lot- more these days and how hard it must be--especially when you are alone---bless you

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    1. I'd be a much better neighbor if I weren't overwhelmed by this life. While I hate to use it as an excuse, it is also true. I just can't do all I want to do. So, I just try to do SOMETHING. I think we can learn so much from our older generation...

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  4. You are such a kind and wise soul, Amy. I'm honored to be a part of your fan club.

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    1. :). Thank you. And, I know that you understand.

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  6. How amazing you are with hell breaking loose constantly at your house to take time out to think about this lonely man across the street. I always thought you had to be practically a saint to live the life you do, now I am sure you are. Bless your heart!!

    Kathy
    http://gigglingtruckerswife.blogspot.com/

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    1. No. But, I am the sensitive type.

      Thank you, Kathy.

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  7. What wonderful perspective, Amy. It literally made be stop and take a deep breath. Thank you for the reminder.

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    1. Oh, yay for that! It's yeoman's work to make a busy mom stop and take a breath!

      *Patting self on the back and enjoying the moment*

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  8. I just love you. You blessed that old man's life and you bless mine everyday. ♥

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    1. Jo, I feel the same way about you! Thanks for the support! I need to do more for this neighbor. Must make the time...

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  9. We all need something to look forward to. I imagine the moments you share with him break up the moments of too quiet. Beautiful.

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    1. Sure! If I can steal away...which is very hard...it feeds my soul also.

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