Monday, June 29, 2009
A tribute, to a man I hardly knew but who haunts my thoughts now that he’s gone. A. was a neighbor, an unassuming man of German origins who kept mostly to himself. But he was nice and friendly and on those occasions when we would meet up, either in the communal parking lot we all share, on the street or at our home owner association meeting, he was always polite and pleasant. He had lovely green eyes and always wore his thinning hair stylishly short. I always thought that his slightly gruff demeanour hid a gentle soul. I get up early, often before 6 a.m. in order to walk my dog. That is actually my favourite time of day because nobody is about at that hour and the dog and I then have the park across the street to ourselves. It’s a time for the dog to sniff and do his thing, while I get to gather my thoughts for the day while enjoying nature at its best. The flowers are in full bloom, the trees are full of greenery and the birds are out in full force. We often watch the ducks along the canal and if we stand still long enough we sometimes get lucky and get to see a heron gliding to a graceful stop. And oh, the sunrises I have experienced standing at the edge of the water! Last Friday, as we were returning from our little morning walk, I suddenly saw A. He was on a bike, looking tanned and fit, every inch the poster boy for early retirement that he was. He was heading north while I was turning south and since my dog is not fond of cyclists I kept on going. But we made brief eye contact and we smiled, each surprised, I think, to have bumped into the other so early in the day. On Saturday A. suddenly collapsed in his garden even as the help his wife had already called for arrived. He was pronounced dead before the ambulance reached the hospital. Just like that, no more bike rides, no more sun rises. The entire neighbourhood has gone into shock. We who are of a certain age, not quite ready to retire but thinking about slowing down in a couple of years, with kids who are grown and even married, with parents, if we are lucky enough to still have them, who need more of our support than before, recognize, though are perhaps not ready to acknowledge, a new vulnerability based on the ticking of an invisible clock. We are the boomer generation, still busy, still active, keeping fit through sports, still feeling invincible. We are terribly saddened to have lost someone in our midst even as we are selfishly grateful for the gift of another day. A.'s passing is a little reminder that we are not quite as invincible as we'd like to think.