There is an older man who lives next door. Sadly, we've never introduced ourselves to him or him to us because the opportunity never seems to present itself, but I see him walk to his car every morning while I'm on the computer. One of the windows in our office is a perfect vantage point to the handicapped spot he parks in a few steps off his front porch.
He rents the first-floor apartment, which has a gorgeous stained glass window that I've always admired.
I don't know much about him other than his mid-morning ritual of getting in his car, going somewhere and returning a few hours later, but one significant thing has changed in recent weeks.
He no longer helps his wife into the seat on the passenger side.
I think what originally caught my attention almost a year ago was the care in which he assisted her. It just encapsulated true love to me. Every day I felt humbled by his patience as he held her walker until she was seated comfortably, closed her door gently, folded the walker, placed it in the trunk and joined her in the car.
Later, when they returned, he would reverse the process.
It felt strange to be observing something so personal, but I almost felt privileged to witness it at the same time.
One morning a few weeks ago, I never saw them get into the car. I honestly didn't think anything of it until an ambulance showed up later that afternoon.
I remember saying aloud to Jerry that I hoped everyone on the street was alright. But we had a new baby in the house and didn't have a lot of time to spend peeking out windows in hopes of deducting what was going on. We just took comfort in the fact that the lights weren't flashing and assumed it wasn't a huge emergency.
Because my schedule has been altered immensely while caring for Allison, I didn't notice our neighbor's solo treks to his car until recently.
At first I had hoped that his wife was just in the hospital, but now I'm not so sure. When I expressed my concern to Jerry a few nights ago, he confirmed my fears.
"When my grandma died, the ambulance lights weren't on."
"Were they on when they came to pick me up last year?"
I know my assumption could be wrong. She might just need more care than he can give, and maybe his daily trips are now spent visiting her somewhere, but I doubt it.
So as I sit at my desk this morning and glance out the window to see him scraping the snow off his car, I'm filled with such sadness. I want to express this to him, but I don't know how. We've never spoken. Or even been outside at the same time to exchange waves.
Earlier I shoveled the walkway in front of our house and continued to clear his sidewalk and porch steps like I always do, but part of me wondered if I should knock and say hello. I opted not to because I honestly wouldn't know what to say.
I just wish he knew he inspired me.