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.