When we moved into this apartment there was a little elderly lady living across from us. And I say little because she was tiny. In her prime she was probably nearly as tall as I, but age and poor health had bowed her frame and shrank her to near skeletal proportions. But she was sharp as a tack and loved to talk. Now and then I would see her walk up and down the hall with her cat: Buddy. Or her ex husband, who lived a few doors down would go up and down the hall with Buddy. Buddy was her reason for being. She didn’t have children and lived alone with this little tabby boy who very obviously loved her. He talked to her in his little cat voice and she doted on him. Sometimes he would sneak out he door if she hadn’t closed it properly and visit down the hall – especially if I was on my way to the laundry room. He was lithe and quick and loved giving affection. I could tell that the cat was the only thing that kept her going – and the only thing that prevented her from moving into an independent living place where she would have had access to medical care should she have needed it.
Recently I had been worried about her, because I hadn’t seen her much and she had been in and out of the hospital with various ailments – all of which were directly related to a weak valve in her heart. I saw the land lady bringing Buddy out one day in his carry cage and asked what was going on. She said that our neighbour was in the hospital again and that she felt really sorry for Buddy being alone all the time so she was taking him to stay with her while she was convalescing. I was a little relieved for Buddy, since I had heard him crying only that morning.
Yesterday we saw the landlady coming out of our neighbour’s apartment and I asked after her. Apparently she passed away on March 5th. I was speechless and didn’t think to ask and of the questions I should have and all I could find the words to say was ‘that’s so sad.” However, I have since discovered that Buddy isn’t homeless or shuttled off to a shelter because I’m half sure I’d have taken him just to save him that. But he’s a total love and has apparently won the land lady over entirely. This is good because I’m sure Miss Princess Cat here would be right put out otherwise.
But it’s weird. I saw the land lady across the hall today giving away furniture. Not that it’s any of my business, I’m sure there was an arrangement made with our neighbour’ relatives and such because nothing’s happened until now, but it’s so strange when someone dies. What’s left over? Furniture and drawers full of odds and ends that mean something to someone who is no longer here to give them meaning. What’s left to the living but to sort out all that stuff and move on?
Still, I wish I could have paid my respects at the funeral, if there had been one – I don’t know. So for now, wherever you are, I hope you are looking down on a purring Buddy and are at peace, Marlene.