The old fellow lived up the road apiece; not “old” like us, but old in the quiet sense of having lived in that same house for over thirty years, the last seven by himself after the wife passed away, the kids having left long ago.
Spent his days puttering in the yard, reclining on the porch in his overalls and diesel cap, talking to passing strangers or sitting behind the T.V tray, eating leftovers while the nightly news threw shadows against the walls.
Old, in the silent sense that life is driving down the street in a fine new car, pretty girl in the passenger seat, rolling past your gate and never even glancing in your direction.
It was a revelation when the divorcee moved in next door, an electric shock that roused him off the porch and into a clean shirt, shuffling across the backyard to offer his assistance in any tiny matter she might come up short in or need a little help with.
A bit of sweeping up, repair a faucet or run an errand; seems like he was just always close by, some mornings over a cup of coffee he’d share a bit of neighborhood history, ask about her day, her job and the kids, watch the house while she was gone.
Her back porch light was out, came that way with the house, so he found the ladder and a bulb, climbed up, fell off, cracked his head on the stone patio then never got up again.
Now, there is no moral here, it’s just that when the Hand of God reaches out for a person, then that’s pretty much just the finish of it and those of us left standing here had best take note of how fresh the air feels on the skin, the way sunlight sparkles across the mountains like jeweled mist in the morning or the look she gives you when you speak the very same words she was thinking the moment before she spoke them.