Dearest Rachel –
So, before last night’s online Bible study with Pastor Joel, I went through the usual routine of feeding Chompers and taking him outside to deal with the usual business. While out there, I bent down at some point to keep him from walking through the puddles he’d just made – and as I straightened up, I realized that someone had pulled into our (my? I’m never going to get used to the first person singular) driveway.
The van was somewhat distinctive, with a business name and logo splashed diagonally along its length. I can’t remember much about the name, which doesn’t bode well for the effectiveness of the advertising method, though – it may have had to do with audio systems, which I don’t consider myself in the market for, so that may have had something to do with that.
Although it may have, in turn, been why it was curious to see it there. The gentleman got out, and walked over to me (so I knew he wasn’t here for Mrs. M***** next door, with who we share the driveway exit on our north side and her south). So I asked, in between righting Chompers yet away, whether I could help him somehow.
He introduced himself as having lived here some time previous, and had been by to visit us once before. It was at this point that I realized who it was.
“Oh, yes… hello there, Mr. P*****. Can I do anything for you?”
I remember the name thanks to the fact that we continue to receive mail every so often addressed to his mother Lois – I think the last one was either from an insurance company or from (heaven help us all for them not being able to realize she’s not here anymore) the Social Security Administration – despite the fact that it’s now been over thirty-five years since she lived in this house.
As far as the last time he had been by, I can’t recall specifically when it was – it must have been shortly after we moved in – but I believe he had been there with his daughter at the time. That time, we actually let them in – which is why I think it must have been fairly early on, as we really couldn’t have people over for much of the last two decades unless they already knew us well and could live with all the stuff strewn around – and he filled us in with the story about the house, and why it was built the way it was.
I’m not entirely sure if he grew up in the house – although, considering the main portion was built in the fifties, I could believe it – but he described it to his daughter as having been his mother’s house. At some point, she had developed a rather debilitating ailment that rendered her unable to use the stairs, I think it was. So despite the house being less than ten years old at that point, his family added the extensions to the house that we have spent most of our time in as well: the garage and dining/family room (complete with fireplace) on the north side, and the master bedroom (including full bath and laundry room) on the south, with a backyard deck in between the two extensions. That way, Lois didn’t have to deal with stairs to do laundry or to go to bed.
All of which worked out well for us. Basically, our existence has been split largely between the extensions – eating, and watching the computer in the one, and sleeping in the other (or in Daniel’s case, his life is compressed entirely into the combination dining/family room, and that’s been it).
Of course, they weren’t able to connect the extensions to the main house’s furnace, so each side had a space heater unit built into the wall – the couple we bought the house from, you’ll recall, didn’t trust those things much (or maybe considered their use – specifically, the use of the space heaters – wasteful? Again, I forget the specifics), and as a result, spent very little time in either section – although I think the room we use as a master bedroom might have been a television viewing room.
Needless to say, it’s an unusual house, with unusual rooms, and that all may have been part of the reason we could get so much room for so little at the time we were house hunting way back then. Well, that and the fact that the place empties onto a four-lane thoroughfare, but the turnaround driveway makes that fairly tolerable. It certainly allows one to hit the road running.
In any event, Mr. P***** stated that he was driving by, and simply noticed me out there with Chompers, and decided to pull in and say hello yet again. He observed that I was trying to get him to uncross his legs yet again, so he wouldn’t fall over into the puddle he’d just made – “How old is she? He?”
I told him. “Fifteen? Oh, man, that’s got to be hard to deal with.”
You know, under other circumstances I’d agree with him; an aging dog – especially one that you never planned to take care of on your own – is a real challenge to deal with, and at this point, I sympathize with anyone else in my situation. But quite frankly – and you know this – it kind of pales in comparison to the other main event of the year; the reason why I’m dealing with Chompers on my own, whether I like it or not. And so I told him about what happened.
He was most sympathetic, offering if there was anything he could do for me.
And I never know how to respond to those kinds of offers, honey. Especially coming from someone I’ve only met twice like this. I appreciate the sentiment, but honestly, I don’t have a clue as to what I could – or should – ask of him, or anyone else saying something like that. From a material standpoint, Daniel and I are actually doing quite well, after all. The only thing missing in our lives is you. It’s just that… that’s a big thing to be missing. But it’s also not something that some random individual can make right (or at least, less wrong) in any significant way.
So I simply declined, as graciously as I could – although I still felt plenty awkward doing so. And he got back into his company car and drove off while I picked Chompers up and carried him back inside.
It was a strange encounter. No less odd than our first meeting, to be sure, but still… what do you do in those situations?
I’d say I don’t expect to see him again – and considering how long it’s been since he’d last been by, that should be a fair assessment – but you just never know. These things just happen out of the blue, sometimes, just like what took you from us. There’s literally no predicting some things, and no preparing for them, either.
Until the next strange story, darling, you be well. Say hello to all those you’ve newly met for Daniel and me.