Holly and I were walking to the library and encountered our friend, the first person we had met when we moved here - and a man who feels like an anchor to us in our neighborhood. Our friend (who I choose not to name) was a civil rights worker in the 1960's, after quitting school at 16. He worked throughout Mississippi and south Louisiana. In his 20's he completed high school and went to college up north. He became an architect and built multiple dwelling buildings in poor areas that surround the college where he taught, in a major northeastern city.
Our friend told us that his father had passed on almost two weeks ago. He seemed thoughtful and calm, and he told us he was relieved. His dad was 96 and had been bedridden in our friend's home for three years. Our friend's mother had also been bedridden in his home until her passing two years ago.
Our friend said he had confined himself to his home since his father's death, only coming out - like just now - to get food. He has been reclaiming his house, cleaning and putting back in order things that were put away when his parents moved in, one by one. He said he did not want any help, wanted only to clean baseboards and walls, replace items in their original position; and he wanted solitude.
It was a gift for Holly and me to see and spend a little time with our friend. It was gratifying to see him relieved, and to hear him say, "I accomplished what I set out to do. Dad did not get sick or have to go to the hospital for the three years I took care of him. He did not die in agony. He was peaceful and died in his sleep."
Now that is a blessing.