December 2Posted on: December 3, 2012
I took my usual seat in the back of the church. It was time to take the pulse of the community again. Most of the service was devoted to two memorials, both had died yesterday. Since there is no funeral home, and we have no access to a coroner now, the attending EMS issued death certificates.
Beatrice was 92, so her death was not a surprise. She ran out of her heart meds, and refused to be taken into the city, saying she had lived a long life and didn’t want to take food away from a younger person. She also wanted to die in the home she had lived in for over 70 years, shared with her now deceased husband, raised her children in. This she did, surrounded by friends and family.
Leon was our local quadriplegic. He could be seen tooling around our small town in his motorized wheelchair, almost every day, even during the winter. The chair also kept some of his body functioning. Without power, his batteries couldn’t be recharged. Leon dove into the lake when he was 17, and broke his neck on a submerged boulder; he was 52 when he passed. His mother had been his caregiver, but she too passed, 5 years ago; he lived longer than the doctors expected him to. Many of the neighbors looked in on Leon quite regularly, and one of them discovered him laboring for breath. Fortunately a land line was available there, and they called the EMS, but he was already gone when they arrived.
Fellowship followed the service in the basement for lunch: venison soup on rice. I smiled to myself, that Vince and I had jointly provided today’s meal. I noticed that of the 50 people there, most had brought their own bowl and spoon. Interesting. That would save on the Kitchen having to clean up. Those of us who did not bring a bowl, were offered one while in line. Never wanting to draw attention to myself, I accepted the plastic dish and spoon. When it came my turn, I declined the rice but took a small ladle of soup, and sat down with some friends.
The soup was tasty, but lacking. I pulled my ever present notebook out of my vest pocket and jotted down a note: salt for soup. I could spare a pound or two of salt. As I was listening to the conversations around me, which seemed upbeat for the most part, I had three people approach me for gas vouchers. Once I had made that offer at the town meeting, I carried a half dozen with me at all times. At home, I had used the computer word processor while the gennie was running, and made up some simple vouchers. They all said the same, two gallons, so no one could change the amount. On neon green paper, I imprinted each one with my notary raised seal, but left it unsigned. As I signed one and handed it over, I made a note of who it was, and wished them well.
When I saw the township handyman at another table, I excused myself to talk with him. Considering what I needed to discuss, I pulled him out of ear-shot of the others.
“Pete, this may seem insensitive at the moment, but can you still dig graves?” The town has their own cemetery, and that’s one of Pete’s many jobs.
“I’ve already done that, early this morning,” I knew that Beatrice had been like a second mother to him, and Leon lived across the street, so it must have been painful. “Burial will be this afternoon.”
“Thank you for attending to that so quickly. You do realize there will be more deaths this winter, don’t you?” He looked sad, but nodded. “Staying with early in the morning, so no one sees you, I think you should dig a few more graves, maybe six, and cover them with tarps. It won’t be long when the ground will be too frozen to dig.”
“You really think we’re going to lose six more?”
“I hope not, but it’s possible, and I think we should be prepared in case we do, don’t you?” I needed him in agreement, it would make things easier. Pete nodded again, and walked away. It was time for me to go, so I snuck out the back door to my car.
This evening I went across the road to my brother’s house. Today is Norene’s birthday, #72… wow. I took her a bottle of white wine, her favorite, and I took my usual pint canning jar of wine. That was something I started to do a year ago. I was then able to take what wine I liked, and it also limited me: not so much how much I drank, but how much time I spent there. I just don’t like to be gone from home too long, especially not now.