Hello Everybody, and Welcome to Judy's House,
A couple of weeks ago I ran into an old High School chum at the grocery store. "Did you hear about Des?" she asked. "Oh, yup, Des. Nope. I haven't" I replied. She took my hand and in a somber tone said, "Des passed away over the weekend. The wake is tonight. What do you say we go together?" I was stunned. Not at the fact that Des was dead, but the truth was I had no idea who Des was.
Now, it was too late to admit this. My window of opportunity had passed when I had pretended to know whom she was talking about at the onset of our chat. Now, to avoid embarrassing myself, I heard myself say "What funeral parlor?" and we agreed to meet there later.
At home that afternoon, it hit me. Des? "It's Desmond from down the street!" I gasped. He lived three houses down from us, a lovely young man, the kind of person that, after shoveling his walk, shovels yours as well. Why? Just because he's a good neighbor. Had I ever properly thanked him? Except for the smiles and nods we exchanged in passing, I couldn't recall a single conversation between us.
I wept quietly at the kitchen table, and prepared to go to the wake.
My friend was waiting for me in the front of Corrigan's Funeral Home. We entered the parlor, and, with our heads bowed, walked to the front of the room. I had always had trouble with the concept of "going to a viewing", but I did it out of respect for Des and his family. I knelt down next to the casket, my eyes still lowered, and finally steeled myself enough to be able to look at the body. What I found myself looking at was beyond anything I could have ever imagined.
I was looking at the body of a very frail, very small, and very old woman. "She looks good," my friend said. "Remember how many times she told us to be quiet? Well, I guess she can't do that anymore," she said with a nervous giggle, and walked away.
It was Desiree Watkins, our old (now ninety-eight years old) and long retired high school librarian.
I chose not to tell my neighbor Desmond about his "brush with death". But I did drop off a note and a plate of cookies at his house the very next day. So what if he shoveled my walk eight months ago. It's never too late to say "Thank you".
And, by the way, thank YOU too!
All the best to all of you,