I feel like a cross between Garrison Keillor and Mr. Rogers: It’s been a busy week or two in the neighbourhood. That’s “neighbourhood” defined as the extended circles of family, friends, and acquaintances.
- A former neighbour-of-my-parents dies after years of Alzheimer’s disease. Age? 85.
- A chance-met retired military man and author dies after what I hope wasn’t long with cancer. Age? 88.
Sad, you know, but there it is. To be expected, surely. After all, they were both old, “old” being defined as anyone at least 15 years older than I am.
But there are other goings-on in the neighbourhood.
- A former colleague’s wife dies after a three-year bout with cancer. Age? 67.
- A family member starts radiation treatment. Age? 70.
- A younger friend’s mother waits in line for a biopsy on a serious tumor. Age? 73.
- An old friend recovers, damnably slowly, from seven hours of surgery for a condition that came out of nowhere a few months ago. Age? 74.
- A younger friend’s father dies after several years on dialysis. Age? 78.
We’re in that zone. Forget the old: People close to our age are getting sick; some are dying. And so we make the hospital visits, contribute to the designated charities, and attend the funerals.
In 2011, just a few months after my father died, my then 88-year-old mother was at another funeral for someone in her neighbourhood. It was the second or third such funeral in a matter of a few weeks for her group of friends and former colleagues. An old friend leaned over to say something appropriate in an appropriately hushed tone.
They’re mowing our row.
They both laughed. They may both have cried, then or later.
As do I. Faced with life and death, what else is there to do? Just this, as a son said today at his father’s funeral:
Cherish each other.