So, I must have some appeal with older men. Not like that. (Refer to last post.) But, I must look approachable, trustworthy even. I hadn’t seen my neighbor long enough to engage in conversation for a few months maybe, but today all of that changed.
I am just walking by his house with my beautiful labradoodle, earbuds in, enjoying the unseasonable sun and warmth, when he stops me with what seemed like a quick hello. I wave, take my earbuds out, and walk closer for a bit of a chat. I casually comment on his Christmas lights and ask about his wife who is still living at his other home, seeing if she’s been convinced to join him in this new, albeit smaller set up.
He stops dead in his tracks and says she’s divorcing him after 50 years…divorcing him after having a brain aneurysm over seven years ago, leaving her entirely dependent on his care…divorcing him while he lets her keep the dog, the larger home with acres of lush grounds he enjoys farming, the car he just bought her…and his heart. Yes, he calls her an “absolute angel” today.
He knows she is not capable of thinking straight. He knows she cannot care for herself so he has been checking in on her. He knows that she probably has less than a year to live, and everything settled in divorce court will go to his daughter, allowing him to partake in his old home and his farming acres before the divorce is probably final in September.
My neighbor talks of embarrassment. He talks of all of his church friends knowing he has taken good care of her all of these years and being supportive, although it’s hard for him to face them now. He explains how, when he was served the papers, he went into a full blown anxiety attack and was left a motionless mess in the new home he bought them while he waited for his old friend to come check his heart. He motions to his chest, showing me where his friend beat on his ribs, thinking he was having a heart attack and trying to get him to respond after finding him on the hardwood floor. He says he will get through this.
I just stand there, listening, telling him I am shocked so I can only imagine how he must feel. I let him know that I acknowledge that this is a Big Pain, one of those things that stays with you forever. I comment that these things, when we get through them, change us forever, don’t they? I encourage him to get another dog so he is not so lonely and he says, “Well, only if it is a puppy, so I can train him to obey me,” as he launches into another story about his dog he no longer sees.
So, tonight, I think….should I get him a puppy for Christmas???!!!