Patty is my neighbor who helps me with my children. Four of the last seven days she has had the children in various numbers, sick ones and well ones, helping me juggle doctors appointments and errands. She also helps me with fresh flowers from her yard, tomatoes and herbs from her garden, and endless little treats which I find very cheering.
For several months, my favorite mornings have been Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, because at 7:30 a.m. I got to run away to my neighbor Patty’s to help her get her husband Ray, who was suffereing from Parkinson’s, out of bed and through his morning routine. Although I only had half an hour, there was time for a cup of coffee before I had to go home to face the music. While we were in Birmingham, we lost Ray.
(I was tempted not to tell Dan and keep disappearing at 7:30 three mornings a week to “help with Ray”, but I think he would’ve gotten suspicious eventually. So, I told him.)
Towards the end, when Ray fell, Patty would call George and say, “Man Down”, and George would head down the block to scoop him up. When I got the news that Ray was dying, I called George to take some flowers down to Patty, who opened the door and said simply, “Man Down, George.”
In sickness (as I’ve learned he did in health) Ray brought our little neighborhood together, allowing us to come together and pitch in with his care. I don’t know what our block will revolve around now that Ray is gone.
When we got back in town, Patty brough me Paperwhite bulbs, in memory of Ray. They are blooming in my kitchen window, turning a brave face to the ice and snow outside, promising spring.