Louise Friedman, age 94, of Dormont, died yesterday. She took a bad fall, had broken her hip, and didn’t recover. How fragile life can be.
Louise was a stalwart neighbor. She lived in the same house all of my life; across the street, on the high side of the street; looking out and watching over all. As a kid you didn’t appreciate it. But as you grew you got to understand that not only was she the Neighborhood Watch – keeping eye on us all with a caring eye, but we were also all she had.
And as I sit thinking about her I realize I didn’t really know her. But I also appreciate that so many in my family did – or at least we each played our parts in being her neighbor and providing her with that connection.
My parents – always there to answer her phone calls; knowing who to send for what help she needed. No doubt they have been such good neighbors to her and got to know her over the 39 years they were neighbors.
My brothers – always there to shovel her many, many steps or come over to get the garbage to take it out, or the paper to bring it up to her.
My sisters – always there to offer an ear, company, and recently first aid since Alanna became an EMT.
I was reflecting on how beautiful my family is – so loving, so present to others, so giving. It made me proud.
But what did I offer her? All I could come up with was “A smile and a wave”. I started to feel sad that I was not a good neighbor to her. But then God graced me with several thoughts. The first was that even if all I was was “a smile and a wave” it had meaning and was important. Every time I saw her out, or in her doorway I would smile and wave to her. If we were both outside I’d shout up “Hello!”.
She came to my wedding. I sent her our annual Christmas card. She sent cards to Nora. It wasn’t a deep “I know you” relationship, but it was an “I care about you” relationship. Which sometimes is all we can offer and is sometimes who we are called to be for someone else.
So today I sit, saddened by the loss of a friend.
The End of The Watch
From the portal of her high tower
With eyes of a hawk
With wisdom of an owl
Guardian of the highlands,
Guardian of the lowlands.
From the bow of her rampart
With persistence of an eagle
With prowess of a falcon
Foremost of the kingdom,
Foremost of The Watch.
But now the honor guard stands ready
With arrows, unsheathed, sullen
For The Watch has ended
With the flight of a dove.