The best neighbor any one could have ever asked for died this morning. (I'll call him "Dave", for his families protection). "Dave" was damn near 95 yrs old and from the time I met him 13 yrs ago, we hit it off. He was an old country boy, having been raised on a farm all his life. Horses, dogs, cows, pigs, hell, Dave had seen it all.
I always pictured myself as a pretty fair gardener, having helped grow veggies all my childhood and when I finally settled down here. But ol' Dave could grow the sweet corn like Demeter!
The first 2 years Dave would bring over big paper sacks full of the golden sweet corn and I canned like a fool to keep it all. My corn would still be just ready to be harvested but just not quite there. Now after 3 or 4 years of this, it was starting to piss me off. I always got it out earlier and fertilzed and pampered and Hell, I even hand-pollinated one year just to get the jump on him. Son of a bitch, if Dave didn't give me 2 damn bags of corn 2 days before I was ready. Hey all, I'm a dumbass sometimes, but I ain't friggin' STUPID! After that, I decided it was just better to join 'em since I couldn't beat 'em and for the next 8 years, I helped Dave rototill and plant his garden as well as mine. Thing was, Dave never really ate much corn. He just loved to give it away. It gave him pleasure seeing the joy in others faces. Every neighbor for a country mile would get a bag of corn and everyone just loved him for it.
Dave used to have this old 50 yr old hunk O' shit mower too. I never knew how we managed to keep it running, but we did and every year, I'd add on his rototiller and then in the fall, I'd add on his snow plow. We never had a big plow for the tractor or a snow blower and I can't recall the number of times Dave would wake me up, plowing my drive and then go on down to do the other neighbors as well. He was really giving that way. It was his job, I suppose.
I remember helping him clean out the old horse barn and laboring for a day and a half cleaning up horse shit. He'd bring out cold beer, order me down to drink it and tell me that it was too damn hot to be working this hard and that we were taking a break! Dave loved his chew too. Ol' guy would have a 12 O'Clock shadow, stained grooves down his face from the years and Redman chewing tobacco, spitting whenever and where-ever he chose. If you got too close and weren't paying attention, chances are, you'd get a shoe-load of spit.
I can remember his face, the way it would just light up when he had a good laugh. His Santa Clause grin as if he had some sort of special secret which only he knew, chuckling to himself. His eyes would light up, face getting all creased from the smile.....
Last year, Dave ran a stop sign and got a ticket. Seeing that he was 93 yrs old (and God love him, everytime he got behind the wheel, he would back up traffic doing 30 in the 55 for a country mile!) and failed the eye exam, they took his license. Then his son, who has serious hate issues, took and sold his car. That was a turning point it seems. For that car was Daves only real link to what kept him going; that connection with others, his independance, his freedom. Dave slowly started to lose it mentally. He hit this mental stone wall and all those fears just blow their fucking minds. They go tilt and they want to call it Alzheimers. Funny how this particular case of Alzheimers hit so fast. 8 months ago, we were drinking a beer together and laughing, like a coupla old Joes.
I found out his son had put him in the nursing home last week. Just a month ago I saw him for the first time in, oh, a few months perhaps, being cold and wintery. He and I both hibernated but I got to where I would now plow HIS drive and side walk because, well, he'd bloody well paid his dues and it was HIS time to relax a bit.
So 3 weeks ago, when he came across the busy street with his walker, knocking on my door, rambling and crying hystericaly, naturally, I was concerned. His son had told him that he was going to the nursing home. For Dave to realize, with the last bit of his sanity and reasoning, that his son, who hated him, was going to get rid of him, he simply shut down. How the Hell he managed to walk, with a walker, 200 yards, to my place, was like his last hope- for me, whom he trusted, to save him from a fate worse than death. I failed.
So Dave died this morning. Alone. Not at his home where he lived, sweated, bled and cried for the last 70 years. Not the home where he very successfully raised 3 children and made love to his wife of 76 years. Not at the home where we planted so many gardens. Alone where the fucking nurses didn't even have the brains to put his glasses on so he could see the Hell he was living.
It's hard for me to not just walk over there and beat the living shit out of his son. Really. Personally, I think that he'll keep trying to be my friend to and eventually, I'll just light his ass up and tell him what I really think about him. But that's for another day. Another blog.
So for those of you who read this, raise a glass and remember someone who died and left an impression that made you a better person. Remember our fallen Comrades and Brothers. The people who made us better! to "Dave! Brother, I salute YOU!