My aunt Glad in her 84th year looked at me from her rocking chair and said, "Can't be anything too serious ... I sleep too good nights." That night she died. A day doesn't go by that I don't think how much I loved her. She was honest and kind every day of her life and I hope some of that rubbed off, a little of it anyway, on me. I miss Glad.
I remember the day our housesitter passed. Among her last words: "Tell the Hausmans I'm sorry I didn't get over to take care of their dogs." Bless, Kathy for that, and for all the years she did take care of the dogs. You don't miss your water until your well dries up and Kathy was a good deep well. I miss Kathy.
I remember, too, my friend Phil, the painter, the jokester who, in middle age, finally found his true love. It was love at first sight, first kiss, first everything. He painted better, too. And his paintings started selling. Love is the foundation of all things but we got to see just how strong a foundation it was with these two. But one day after they were married, the two love birds were having a cocktail together and Phil got a strange look in his eyes. He died right there, drink in hand, smile on lip. "What'd you put in my drink?" he asked. And died. I was watching Madmen the other night and a painting on Don Draper's wall looked like one of Phil's. He was the kindest, funniest, madman I ever knew. I miss Phil.
A friend of mine named Mike was in the hospital a few years ago and I had driven him there at 3 AM.
We were in the ER and the doctors and nurses kept up a blue stream of visitations: "I am from Respiratory."
"I am from from Surgery ... I am from" etc. Finally a nurse stepped in and said, "I am from Breathing" and Mike's eyes opened and he said, "I am from dying." The only other words he spoke to me, later on, were: "Did you meet Natasha?" I asked who that was and he replied, "Someone from high school, long, long ago."
"Where is Natasha now?" Mike replied, "I don't know but she's sitting right next to you." There was no one there that could be there. I nodded. "Nice to meet you Natasha." Then Mike said, "You can't see her, can you?" I miss Mike.
When my dad was on his deathbed in the hospital, he asked me if I thought the nurse was cute. I said she was, and he asked me to give her a pinch -- from him. "I'm too weak," he said, "or I'd do it myself."
I pinched her and she was about to retaliate when I said, "That was from my dad, he said he was too weak to do it himself." She shook her head, "The dear," she said. I miss my dad.
My father in law, Roy, said before he died, "Life is a dirty business and then you die." He waited to see what I would say. I replied, "There is only life." After he died, Roy came back. I woke up in the middle of the night and there he was sitting on the corner of the bed, white hair all mussed and flaring and lit up by moonlight. He looked me square in the eye and said, "You're right. There is only life." Then he smiled and vanished. I miss Roy and all of them who have gone beyond the veil, as they used to say, and I wonder if they miss me.