Sometimes it’s like this entire city reminds me of Essie, a dear friend and neighbor.
She was elderly and had grown weak and sickly in the past couple of years. And in hindsight, I now see that she was also weary. She’d gradually lost her eyesight, the gout in her legs was more painful than we knew and her heart was giving out.
She was a fighter though, ever hopeful that she would regain her sight and be able to work in the yard of her home again. She had spunk and was very ornery. Her language could even make a novice sailor blush. She told the most outrageous stories.
When we moved here twelve years ago, she was amazingly active and vivacious, spending many days working in her yard, or cleaning her house. In the evenings, her driveway was constantly full of cars, her home full of company, her voice ringing out in laughter or story telling! Sometimes, I lay in bed wondering when the commotion would die down so I could get to sleep.
For the most part though, I marvelled at the sheer luck we had to have found such a neighbor. She treated my housemates and I like her family. Called us “my gals.” We spent many hours in her kitchen talking for hours or outside listening to her stories.
In the final months of her life, I took on the role of caregiver: helping Essie get around, bringing her food, driving her to appointments and providing companionship. She had been such a fighter that I naively thought she’d rally back and get better.
She passed away in December last year. Only after her passing did I really begin to comprehend the impression she had had on my life. I miss her so very dearly.