The phone rang about 4:00 AM. No good news is ever delivered at 4 AM. Steve grabbed for the phone on his bedside table and I heard his sleepy hello. There was some silence and he sat up in bed talking to the caller. It was Mrs. Morgan. I immediately thought that Mr. Morgan may have wandered away again and she needed some help finding him. There was a similar call about two months ago and we found him sitting on a neighbor’s porch that morning petting their cat. I turned on the lamp on my side table. Steve was still listening and making noises of acknowledgment but made hand gestures for me to stay when I got up to dress. He ended the call letting Mrs. Morgan know that he would be right down.
Sadly, Mr. Morgan had passed away in his sleep and Mrs. Morgan had already alerted the police and they were at the house with her and an ambulance to carry Mr. Morgan to the mortuary. Steve dressed and I made a pot of strong coffee. He went down to sit with Mrs. Morgan as she dealt with the details.
I alternated sitting on the back steps smoking and watching out the front blinds until the police and the ambulance left. When Steve returned mid-morning, he filled me in on what we could do for Mrs. Morgan. Steve remarked that she was calm and seemed a little relieved in a way. Mr. Morgan had been a lot to keep up with as his dementia worsened. After last summer’s block party event, we had started to check up on them more often and had them over to dinner a couple of time. Mr. Morgan loved playing toy soldiers with Stevie Junior and Mrs. Morgan needed a break from time to time and she went grocery shopping with me a couple of times while the men hung out on the porch. Mr. Morgan would sometimes know who we all were and sometimes not.
I went down to see Mrs. Morgan and brought some lunch. We talked for awhile and she let me know that her sister was on the way to town also. Boldly and smartly, the details of Mr. Morgan’s funeral had already been decided so Mrs. Morgan only had to call the funeral home to discuss the scheduling details.
We had some tea and she remarked on how different her life would be without her husband. The Morgan house was one of the larger homes on the block with multiple bedrooms and an extra full bathroom. She had kept it clean by herself but she thought it held a lot of mixed recent memories. She confidentially told me that she hoped to sell it and move closer to her sister. They had been close earlier in life and she wanted to enjoy what time she had left with family nearby. Since the Morgans had no children, she had kept up with her nieces and nephews who were now having their own children.
I knew that I would now miss her. She had been kind to my children and made them more thoughtful and comfortable with older people. Seeing her expertly handle Mr. Morgan was inspiring. It would be nice for her to move forward for her own life.
A lovely memorial on a beautiful morning fitted the gentle way the Morgans spent their last years. The quiet distance that crept up between Mr. Morgan and his world never brought him to anger and Mrs. Morgan was patient throughout her time as caregiver. I knew he became frustrated sometimes, but she was always his friend and brought him back to center.
Mrs. Morgan contacted an estate dealer to take away most of their furniture and a week later, she had a moving van pick up her cherished items for a move to an apartment near her sister. She was looking forward to spending time with them and their lively family. I admired her ability to look forward and enjoy her life and told her so. She leaned closer to me and told me that she had plenty of time to think about this move.
She asked me to oversee the painters that would repaint inside the house before she sold it and I gladly accepted the responsibility. The house would sell quickly due to its good size. When she called to let me know that there was an interested party, I didn’t want to know about them. I realized how large the hole was that she left in my life when she moved.