Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Who-Died Mixup

Saturday on the other side of the street, two houses down were two police cars and a fire truck. What happened?

Next door, my 86 year old neighbor Jim was standing in his front yard leaning on his rate and transfixed on the house the officials were in. I walked over and asked him what was going on.

He didn’t know, but we both agreed that the vehicles were probably responding to a 911 call.

Bob saw us standing there and walked over, toting his granddaughter. Another police car drove up and the policemen went inside. The other two police cars were white. The new arrival was a black police car.

Bob said it is nice to see police cars on the street and “they an’t got nothing to do with me!” and let out a wild laugh. (he has been back from the Big House for about 6 months).

The fire truck left. The three police cars stayed.

We said somebody must have died in the house.

I said it wasn’t the man of the house, I saw him on the front porch within the hour when I went out to buy something.

Bob said he was sure it was the woman of the house because she had a knee operation last week and maybe a clot or something developed.

Jim said she wasn’t a very friendly lady. We all agreed – in fact, she never smiled or spoke when you waved, and she was just plain rude if you spoke to her.

Bob remembered last week, he noticed the grass was high by the road that ran beside their house and he carried his lawnmower down and cut the grass. He said the old woman didn’t even acknowledge him – he added that. “She just didn’t like me very much.”

I told Bob not to feel bad, she didn’t like anybody.

Jim asked Bob what was he doing cutting their grass by the road, the county comes by and cuts its.

Bob laughed and said he was used to working for the county and not getting paid for it and let out another wild laugh.

Have you seen the TV sitcom MY NAME IS EARL? Bob reminds me of Earl, and the fact that he cut someone's grass, unasked, reminded me of what the whole sitcom of Earl is based - Karma.

We dispersed and I went home and updated Anna on who we thought had died. I called our neighbor Kathleen and told her. Later in the evening Kathleen called back and said she talked to Glenda, the neighbor that lives across from her, and she said it was not the old woman, but their son. She rode by and a funeral service was putting a covered body into the hearse and she rolled down her window and asked who died and they told her the youngest son – who was in his 30s or 40s. I didn’t think to call Jim and tell him it was not the old woman like we thought, but her son.

In the next morning’s paper was their son’s obituary. He was 47 years old. I thought Jim would see the obituary, he is an old Marietta native, the type who says jokingly that he checks the obituaries every morning to make sure he is not in it before he does anything.

Yesterday was the funeral. Anna made a dietetic cheese cake and I carried it to their house about 9am. I rung the doorbell. I waited and I waited. Should I ring the doorbell again? I thought no, that would look like I was being inpatient and rude to a mourning family.

Finally I heard someone coming to the door. It was their granddaughter. The grouchy old lady was behind her about 5 or 6 feet in the living room in a wheelchair. I handed the cheese cake to the granddaughter and said I was so sorry. It is very hard for me to tell people that at funeral homes and funerals I am sorry without breaking down myself. But this time I did ok.

And even the grouchy old lady was smiling like she knew I meant it. Maybe I should have jumped in her lap and say that smile looks much better than that mean old frown.

I worked out in the yard, cutting grass, pulling up little growths by the roots and trimmed some. I saw everybody down a that house get in about 4 vehicles and drive off – going to the funeral. Later they returned.

About an hour later Jim saw me in the yard and hollered over that he had something to tell me. So I walked over.

He said that was not the old lady who died, but their son. I told him I already knew that, and I thought he did too because it was in the paper. He looked irritated that I didn’t tell him. He said he didn’t know their last name to find the obituary.

I was tying to find a way to gently tell him it just took a little detective work- I wanted to say, we knew the old man’s name’s first name. Just look at the obituaries until you see a surviving parent with his first name… then read for details… .but Jim is touchy, so I just apologized for not telling him, which I think he accepted.

He went on to tell me the day before Bob’s wife went to the house to offer her condolences and saw the lady that she thought was dead. She thought that the old lady was dead because Bob told her that. When she saw her, she automatically thought it was not her, but had to be her twin sister – because she was dead, or supposed to be. So, Bob’s wife told her she looked just like her sister.

The old grouchy woman looked surprised and finally they both realized that Bob’s wife thought it was her that died. She had to explain to her it was her son who died.

I doubt if a good laugh was had by all when the mistake was realized.

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