I have always wondered what would happen if Felix,our neighborhood cat got run over by a car? I have always imagined myself being bereft. After all, Felix has been there for as long as we can remember - the proud prowler of the neighborhood, the owner of our rooftops and the patroller of our collective decks.
Today I find myself in that same situation as I think of a neighborhood without Billy, our neighbor. He passed away early this morning, in his sleep. He was eighty three.
Before that he was cranky, old, ornery Billy who wore shorts no matter what the weather gods sent his way. Pants were against his religion. The only time he wore a pair of pants was to shovel snow after a massive snow storm. Even then, he wore a pair of shorts over his pants!
And before that, he was the first one to come over and welcome me to the neighborhood. He bought me a set of our house keys, apparently the previous owner had left them with him. He mowed our lawns, washed his red pickup religiously and had long conversations with the mailman and anyone else who happened to walk by. The conversation would almost always end with a mention of Costa Rica and the time Billy spent there. Oh, and he loved Lite Beer.
A fall outside his home lead to a hospital visit, which in his advanced age lead to one complication after another. In the midst of his failing health, he managed to keep up the orneriness intact. During a recent hospital visit, the nurse was gently urging him to take his medications as her shift was coming to an end and she would have to leave. With the straightest of faces and the softest of voices, Billy asked her to pull up a chair because he had no intention of taking all the pills and making it easy!
In the end, he went to the great beyond like he lived. By himself and on his own terms.