He lived in a red brick house on a quiet, older cul-de-sac in a burb of Richmond. He was friendly with the young couple who lived next door, and he was buddies with Sunny, an elderly lady who lived across the street.
Richard and Sunny would go to breakfast once a week, and Sunny would grocery shop for him. They were, after all, friends. Richard would take his garbage and recycling to the street by himself. The young man who lived next door had offered to do that for him, but Richard liked to do that himself. A pleasant, but independent man.
He and the young man would have conversations about many topics. One of Richard’s favorites was political, and he’d rant about the previous administration, while hoping for the best for the new administration. When in the yard, he’d wave at the young couple and they would wave back. Neighborly.
The young couple noticed Richard hadn’t been around in a while. They would watch for him, but neither had seen him. They wondered.
After several weeks, the young man asked Sunny if Richard was okay.
She explained Richard had fallen and had broken his arm. He had it mended, but was taken to a rehab center. When he wanted to come home, his daughter refused.
Richard was 103. Coherent. Aware. Intelligent. Friendly. Hadn’t suffered from any other malady.
Sunny told the young man that Richard had wanted to come home, but his daughter thought he was too much of a bother. So, not being able to have visitors because of Covid, not being able to go anywhere, Richard died alone in his room at the rehab center. Probably died more of a broken heart than the broken arm that got him there.
103. Alone. Died. He was too much of a bother.
I don’t know why this story bothers me so. I mean, I didn’t know Richard. I think I saw him once from a distance. I’m a little over half of his age. I have a loving wife and two wonderful daughters. Hannah is engaged, and Emily probably will be too in a year or so after grad school.
Kim and I are in pretty good shape- Kim in much better shape than I am. Both of us independent, healthy. Nothing much in common with Richard.
I think back to July 2014 when Wil was shot and killed in Chicago. Though there were other pedestrians and drivers on the street, Wil was alone. By himself. And he died on the sidewalk alone. By himself. There are times I wish I would have been with him on that day. I don’t know what I would have said. Maybe something like, “It will be okay.” Maybe hold him. Something.
Richard wanted to come home. And like Wil, he died alone. Maybe that’s why Richard’s story affects me so. Maybe.
I hope that as I advance in age, I’m not a bother to Kim, or Hannah, or Emily. I hope they never feel I’m in the way. I hope I’m never in a place, in a room, by myself, alone, where I will die. I don’t want that. I pray that never happens to me, or to you, or to anyone. I don’t want to be like Richard. Something to think about . . .
Live Your Life, and Make A Difference!
Betrayed received a Maxy Runner-Up Award!
BETRAYED by Joseph Lewis 5 stars
Awesome read, hard to put down. Fast moving, great story of a family who adopted several boys who had nowhere to go. Some were Navajo. A problem came up on the reservation and one boy's friend was missing. Strange, dangerous things were happening. Great read.
Photo courtesy of Huy Phan and Unsplash