What were they thinking?

I had a neighbor, well actually two neighbors who were married to each other.  They were close enough so that I could hear them in the summer, but in cooler weather, with the windows closed, they might as well have been a mile away.  Still, I saw them coming and going.  He always drove, and they went out for fish fry every Friday evening, probably to the local joint a few blocks away, where everyone who was anyone in town (and only those) would gather for the weekly recap and opinion mart.  They had lived there for 20 years.  He worked for the town (and was a Korean War vet), she watched television and ordered things from QVC.  The UPS truck was a regular.  I knew they had a son who lived in Ohio with his wife and son.  He visited on holidays.

Last August, new cars began showing up.  One was a silver Buick enclave and there were others.  That’s when I realized that they had children in town.  You probably think I’m a busybody now and you may be right.  But sometimes you can’t help but notice things.  The cars began showing up nearly every day and they parked on the lawn.  I saw the wife occasionally, but never the husband, so I guessed that he was seriously ill.  He died in early November.  I looked up the death notice and stopped by the funeral home to sign the guest registry and pay my respects.  I felt that neighbors do that.  The wife was very surprised to see me.  The children even more so.  The wife had more than five children from two separate marriages and at least two of the daughters lived in town.  I gave my phone number to the wife so that she could get in touch with me if she needed something like groceries or help.

After the funeral, I expected to see one or both of the daughters’ cars over to visit.  Not so much.  On Thanksgiving day, the wife ran her car into the side of the house: there were cars in the drive.  She went out for groceries, but not much else.  One daughter came over each week to put the garbage out for collection and a grandson came over to shovel the walk, but that was fewer than a dozen times over the winter months.  I thought it was odd, but families communicate in their own fashion.  None of my business.

Christmas, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day – she stayed in her house, no visits.  On Easter Sunday, she went out for about an hour and a half – certainly not enough time for Easter dinner at her daughter’s house.  And then, no sight of anyone until Wednesday morning when the buick showed up with a black toyota with hospice on the dash.  Then the police and then an ambulance.  They took her out the back door.  Her son from Ohio showed up the next day.  They think she had broken her hip on Sunday evening.  But no one thought to check on her until Wednesday morning.  So she was lying somewhere away from the phone from Sunday evening to Wednesday morning.  She died on the 15th.

I know that sometimes people choose to die, and that probably is what was going on with this woman.  Most animals receive better/more attention from their caretakers.  I am profoundly offended by the treatment this woman received from her children.  It doesn’t matter what she did/didn’t do to/for her children.  They left her alone, newly widowed for months.  It would have been kinder to put her down after her husband died.

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