This was the week during which Herschel left home. He will probably die now -- that's what doctors and nursing homes do for people.
For several days during the week, a large pickup truck was parked in front of Herschel's house across the street from my own. Two young men carried out item after item, placed them in the truck, drove away, and then returned for another load. When I asked Gloria, the woman who had taken up responsibility for an increasingly-less-visible Herschel during the past couple of years, what was going on, she explained that Herschel had had a stroke. He was 80. He was in a nursing home. He had pneumonia.
Herschel was always a part of my neighborhood tapestry. During the twenty or more years I've been here, I would see Herschel, a Korean war vet, limping off on some shopping mission or snow-blowing his driveway or putting out the rubbish. Now and then we would chat about some book he head recently read. He had strong opinions and wasn't afraid to share them. Once, when he went off his meds, he took an axe to the front doors of the houses to the left and right of me. Why he never did mine, I never learned. Herschel was a part of my tapestry. He didn't qualify as a friend. He was a bit of blueness in my blue sky...as perhaps I was in his.
And I feel some loss, though what I have lost is hard to say. Herschel is like the fellow Yeske who once kept an immaculate garden perhaps 300 yards from here. I would pass and admire his garden on the drive home and once I stopped to tell him how much pleasure I took from his immaculate garden. He gave the produce to local nursing homes and homeless shelters. What he did with the flowers, I don't know. But Yeske and his mentally unstable son died in a house fire that was part of a string of arsons in town a few years back. The garden is now weeds. And the blue sky is missing something, somehow.
All that blue sky, mine and yours.
Blue sky never loses anything. But I do.
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