Street Life and Death (2)
One route to happiness is to find someone worse off than oneself and help them. Sheila lives opposite four doors down. She is in her late eighties and since her strokes eighteen months ago rarely goes out. Certainly she has a family but they are not nearby and some days all she has for company is Radio 4. So I go round once a week. Her life is mainly dominated by the family trust which owns a small block of Edwardian flats. During the War her family fostered one of the Jewish children who came over on the kindertransport.
As I was saying goodbye last week she looked across the road to an old couple’s house and pointed out that their side light had been on three days continuous. As I passed I rang the bell. A flustered middle aged woman,the daughter came to the door. Did she know about the light? No, but she and everyone else in the house were all over the place as her dad had just died.
Jim had been the street’s longest living inhabitant. Eighty three of his 85 years had been spent in the same house . He had his whole family with him at the end and was married to one of the pillars of the street, the immaculate Trautie ,a wonderful German woman. He hadn’t been seen much in the last few years as his broken hip was followed by cancer. I made my apologies and offered my condolences.
Later wearing my hat as neighbourhood watch organiser I asked if they wanted me to email an announcement to the rest of the street. No, they wanted their privacy to be respected. The next day when buying my paper I asked Joe if he had heard. Yes the family had told him yesterday.