Fare well and away fair lad.
Fare well and away, fair lad.
We were sitting outside of The Panera Bread Company, at Coconut Point, in Estero, Fl. on a balmy, late-November, Wednesday morning. It was eighty degrees out, with a gentle quartering zephyr that cooled the face.
An attractive woman in her early seventies approached us. We smiled in recognition. She and her husband Dick were hardy New Englanders whose families had inhabited Cape Cod for generations. We had seen and talked with them many times. Casual conversations are an added feature of all coffee shops. Dick was a natural gabber, with a seaman’s even-eyed look at most things around him. We talked to him frequently and were often entertained by his earthy views on government and the economy. We knew that husband Dick, a sturdy six-footer, rode his bicycle over thirty miles every morning. Ann played Tennis and rode her bike as well. They were into a healthy life style. They had just last year sold their cape cod homes and moved to Florida permanently, to enjoy the Golden years of their retirement.
After a few perfunctory comments, we asked Ann about Dick's whereabouts, figuring that he was off someplace on another long bike ride. Ann gathered her breath for a second and said quietly that Dick has passed away a few weeks before, unexpectedly. In that we had probably seen and talked to him a few days before his passing, we were stunned by the news.
At times like this, you revert to form and utter the banalities that we all say at wakes and funerals, when we really haven’t got anything relevant to say. We said we would say a prayer for Dick and wished her well. Ann and Dick had a blended family of seven children. So, she at least had support base in her grief.
We talked with her for a few minutes, saying whatever you say to make a recently bereaved person feel better, even though nothing you say can do that. Ann said she was staying in Florida for the holiday season because she was better able to cope with her loss here. I guess each fresh face that you see who knew Dick, is like tearing the scab from a wound. You feel the fresh pain all over again.
We wished Ann well in her future and asked that any time she saw us, she would promise to stop and talk with us for a while. Ann is more the quiet type and not one to initiate conversation like her voluble mate, Dick. She smiled timidly and said that she would. We wished her well and said “God Bless you,” as she left.
We sat, in a period of quiet reflection, as we pondered so quick a loss of so apparently healthy individual. We did indeed say a prayer for Dick’s repose and for the comfort of his wife. In Florida, where most of the population is older, these scenes are repeated often. The bereaved is left behind, bewildered at their sudden loss and unable to even think about what comes next. It is a one day at a time existence that friends and relatives can be of enormous assistance to, if they care enough to lend an ear.
As we left, for our two-mile walk home, I wished a silent “Vaya Con Dios” to Dick and hoped his wife would find her way after the difficult transition. “Carpe Diem” you hear often enough from wise ones. Every day is a gift and we meant to greet every one with the gusto of children on Christmas Morning enjoying the new treasure that they have been presented with.
Wiser people than me have often warned us to be kind to each other for we do not know the time, date or place of our departure from this mortal coil. We renewed our intention to do just that with each other those around us.
Joseph Xavier Martin