Thursday, June 2, 2022

Old Man, Young Man

 Our tenant Paula wanted a storm door so that she can get the breeze off the river at night. Tim said, "Oh, yeah, I got one of those." So we trucked on down to where it was stored and grabbed it. It's another one of those 'stock pile' things from Lowe's. It was a clearance thing and Lord knows how long we've had it stored away, but we figured it would be needed at some point, and now, 7 or 8 years later, it is. 

We hauled it down the street to Paula's and set it on her back deck. She wasn't home, and we meant to stop over and talk to her about getting it installed the next time we saw her car. 

This morning, walking down to the renovation, I saw a man standing on her back deck, looking at the door. I was a little horrified because we never meant for her to install the door. I stopped in to talk to the gentleman, a thin, tall fellow, white haired and bearded, quiet soothing voice. About the same time, Paula came busting around the corner with my husband. 

We all laughed. Paula said, "Well, I see you've met 'Old Man' (not his real name, but it was a disrespectful  term for an old man), and she introduced Tim and the tape measure came out, and the installation discussed. Old Man volunteered to be the second set of hands right away. He is a very quiet guy who just likes to be useful. 

Paula made a little noise and gesture, and Old Man turned around. A tall thin woman was trying to unlock the car. "Excuse me," he said, and scooted off the deck and across the yard. 

Paula looked after him with great affection. He is another one of the Kinzua people and they have known each other since they were children. "His wife has Alzheimers. She's declining very quickly," she said in a sad voice. 

I watched him speaking quietly to her. helping her to get into the car in a slow and patient way. Then he scooted back up to the deck, where it was quickly agreed that Paula would call him when we were ready to get the door installed, and with quick long steps he went back to his car and his wife. 

Paula said, "He got such a good heart. He and his wife are hippies. They always have been. They traveled all over, once hopping on a motorcycle and traveling across the country at a leisurely pace, Old Man stopped and did odd jobs whenever they needed money. Now they live in a tiny two room house in the woods, and have for years."

I spent the day cleaning and scraping paint and repainting. It's coming together so quickly now that it's amazing. We tested the washer and dryer and everything works. Tim's trimming out the bank of windows in the bedroom. At this point, 4 of 7 rooms are completely done. The other three are so very nearly done. 

I listened to old rock and roll as I worked, and all them seemed to be about love that lasts forever. I thought of Old Man and his wife, together all their unconventional, adventuresome lives, and now they are facing their final adventure. She is not aware, I suppose, but he is. He has the sort of quiet nature, I guess you would call him 'zen'. but what he is is exactly what his wife needs right now. 

It's a uncommon thing is this crazy world. It's sad. It's sweet. We're all walking that path, aren't we, headed down a path that will come to an end, and the beloved souls at our side are the blessing of it all. 



I got a second chance today. I walked down to meet William after school. I waited in front of the house while he dropped his back pack inside the door. He came running back down the driveway just as Dante, the kid I scared so badly a couple weeks ago. "Hi, Dante," I said, "this is my grandson, William, that I told you about." The two boys talked shyly about the Carnival the school is having to celebrate the end of the school point. I listened to them. 

When we got to the renovation, we all said goodbye and I felt like something had been fixed. 

No sign of Mangey today, so I don't think I'm getting a second chance with him. I've only seen him once this week, but I'm not the only person who tends to stray cats, so he may have found someone who is not so hell bent on helping. 

26 comments:

  1. That's a nice encounter with a nice person. There are still plenty around. But I will just live the future, not think about what it might be. Have I convinced you? Myself?

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    1. I think about it. Tim's people live to their nineties. Mine don't. I just hope my brain doesn't die before my body.

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  2. Very much my mindset at the moment. The song encapsulates it well.
    I'm glad you were able to make it up with Dante. Mangey will be hanging around waiting for you to give up.

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    1. We will see about mangey. Cats are funny people.

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  3. I love that song by Five for Fighting. I also love that they named themselves after a hockey penalty. I surely am grateful I found someone to share this life with. I still don't know how I got so lucky. Best wishes to you, Tim and the Old Man and his wife. Take care, Debby, and thanks for sharing a nice story and reminder about what really is important.

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  4. We all need that reminder sometimes, but from where I sit, you always seem very cognizant of your great good fortune.

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  5. You guys are workaholics. I don’t know how you keep up the effort.

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    1. A great motivator is the fact that we have an elderly gentleman that we love dearly who has made a big decision that he can no longer maintain his house in the country. He has sold most of his belongings and put his home on the market. We want to make a rough change as easy as we can for him. It would be awful if his house sold before his new home was ready.

      We are taking the rest of the summer off to putz. As you do when you are retired.

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  6. What lovely tenets and their neighbors. Don't let the wind blow the door away before the Oldish and Newish team complete the installation. How sweet and sad to see the older couple taking care of things amongst themselves. Linda in Kansas

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    1. We haven't had a bit of wind to speak of. Some threatening skies. Some amount of rain, distant rumbles of thunder. I'm grateful for the rain. It allowed us to skip a night of watering tender new plants.

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  7. Old Man by Neil Young began to play in my mental jukebox Debby after reading your very though provoking post.

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    1. I love that song too. It fits, doesn't it?

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  8. I feel grateful that approaching 90 and living alone I am so far able to function. The worst thing is not being first in anyone's life any more. My sister said this to me many years ago when she was widowed and I know just what she means.

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    1. Oh, Pat. My grandmother once said that the hardest thing about getting older was watching your circle of friends become smaller and smaller and smaller. Loss is a painful thing, the cost of loving others. Sending you a virtual hug and letting you know that you are one of those small bright spots in my day. Every day. Thank you for that.

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  9. It seems there are many good people around you and good things in your life. Something we should all be lucky to enjoy, however long we have.

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    1. Jaycee, I think it is like that for everyone. Truly. The question is whether everyone recognizes those things. Everyone has hard times. Everyone struggles. Everyone has that neighbor. But in the end, there are the bright spots. There are great people living their own quiet lives in tandem with yours, the glorious sunsets, good coffee in the morning, all the small things that matter. Even on the Isle of Man.

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    2. Especially on the Isle of Man!

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  10. I turn 72 this year and I am always wondering how long I have left. I wish I knew so I could plan better!

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  11. I don't think I've heard that song before. Instead, I can't get the Neil Young song (Old Man) out of my head. Not a bad ear worm... -Kelly

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    1. I've had worse! Do not go over to Apache Doug's blog. He has the New Zoo Revue theme song playing.

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  12. We make a point of making friends of all ages...it does keep you young and on your toes. It hits you when younger people go though.

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  13. I've never heard that song before, but it does capture the spirit of your post, doesn't it? Glad you got a second chance with Dante. I think Mangey may show up yet.

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    1. It really surprises me that the song is new to people. It was very popular for a time.

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