Monday, June 17, 2013

The Bookends of Life

Between the bookends of life--birth and death--life gets lived.

Now, this assertion is hardly startling, but since my blog is entitled KGMom's MUSINGS--I am given to musing. And recent events have set my mind spinning on this somewhat trivial musing...that life gets lived between the time of our birth and the time of our death.

The recent birth of our granddaughter has been such a joyous occasion. Just days after she was born, my husband and I traversed the ocean between our home and our daughter and son-in-law's home to meet our granddaughter. Within days after our leaving them, more anxious-to-meet-the-granddaughter parents arrived. Then within days of their departure, an uncle and aunt arrived. And then there were friends who visited. In short, this sweet little girl was welcomed into the world with great fanfare of family and friends cheering her on.

In the in-between times of getting to see our granddaughter, we make do with Skype calls or Google Chat. Of course, it's not the same as an in the flesh visit, but it helps. We can see her smiling, and watch as she tries to master crawling. We can watch her parents interacting with her and doing a SPLENDID job of giving her the best possible start in this world.

As any parent knows, the life course of a child is not written in advance. But a good beginning certainly helps.


At the other end of the spectrum of life--the other bookend--is death.

We recently saw, with shock, the obituary announcement of a former neighbor. When an obituary notice begins with these word: "W.G., 46, of Middletown, entered into rest suddenly on June 12, 2013 at his home"-- you just know that all was not well. A sudden death at 46.

This neighbor was indeed strange. In fact, since his first name began with W, I confess that I took to calling him "weird W." He lived in the house on the corner for 20 years. During that time, he had two live-in girlfriends, each of whom left under less than happy circumstances. He did minimal--and I mean minimal--work around the yard. He reluctantly mowed, but only when the "grass" had reached a foot in height. He had wood delivered for his wood stove, with which the house was heated, but the load of wood was simply dumped in the back yard, never stacked. The end cap on his roof broke, and he never had it repaired. External paint began to peel, and stayed that way.

All the while, W. would sit in his back yard, under the shade of a large pin oak tree, smoking a cigar and sipping on bottles of beer. He never put forth an effort to do... anything.

So it came as no surprise when about two months ago, I noticed he was moving things out of the house. I stopped to ask, out of plain nosiness, where he was going, and he indicated he was leaving the house. His most recent former live-in girlfriend was helping him, and she told me that he had been foreclosed on, and was losing the house. Apparently he moved in with his mother.

And then, two days ago, I saw his death notice. 46 years old. Dying suddenly at home. Not sick--just died suddenly. And no memorial service was to be held--as per his instructions. He seems to have failed at everything--at relationships, at holding a steady job, at keeping a house he had bought, and--presumably--at life itself. He seems to have succeeded at only one thing--he had a good dog named DJ.

How sad--a life lived between the bookends. I can't help but wonder--did W. have a good beginning? Was he loved? Was he happy? Did W. get to live the entirety of his life?

Musings--that's all I have here. Just musings.


Anvilcloud said...

Oh dear! These are not amusing musings but sad ones.

NCmountainwoman said...

And these musings surely set us all thinking.

Ruth said...

It is always good to ask questions but harder to judge what went wrong. Working in mental health I see many young people who have a good start but mental illness and/or substance abuse robs their potential. And I see far too many suicidal people of all ages. I am sure there is a sad story behind your neighbour's untimely demise.

KGMom said...

I should add that W. was singularly isolated in the neighborhood. We have a very friendly interactive neighborhood, and I think I was one of the few people to talk to W.--not that it resulted in much conversation.
I interacted quite a bit with his dog, who was a very friendly dog. But even at that, W. simply didn't try to talk to other neighbors.
One neighbor even went to W.'s yard and whacked down the weeds--a kindly gesture that got no response from W.
During one snow storm, I actually recruited W. with his snow blower to walk two doors up the sidewalk from his house to snowblow the sidewalk for a neighbor whose wife is housebound. W.'s response--well, he was almost out of gas. So I marched up to the other neighbor's house and asked if he had spare gas--he did. Thus, W. did a favor for someone who gave him gas. A very short-lived effort to get W. involved.

Jayne said...

So sad to ponder what made him such an unhappy, disconnected soul. I once knew a tortured soul like that as well, and when he finally took his own life, there were parts of me that deep down knew that as sad as it was, it was almost going to be better for his kids to not have to live with his angst for their lifetimes. I simply knew there was not going to be any peace for him here on earth, and consequently, for all those who loved him and tried to help.

Climenheise said...

Thank you for the portrait. It means that W. was connected at least that much, and remembered at least that much.

I also wonder sometimes what within the person leads to incompleted lives around us. People who have not fully formed, like a fallen cake, except that the outward appearance speaks of an inner falling as well.

I wonder partly because I can imagine myself too easily in a similar state. "There but for God's grace ...."

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

You probably never really knew your neighbour. One wonders what pain he carried in his interior life. It seems Life was not worth living for him. I fight against this feeling almost daily.