I received a phone call this morning, from my neighbor K's nephew.
I met K even before I bought my house, because my cousin had moved into the neighborhood before I did and K had introduced herself to my cousin. K was the type of person who was the first to introduce herself to a new neighbor and welcome her. Later, when I bought my house, K became my neighbor, two houses down from me. I couldn't have asked for a better, more helpful neighbor.
K was retired from her job in the phone company. She had never married, but had family in the neighborhood and on the East Coast. She took an interest in everyone in the neighborhood. She was our Neighborhood Watch block captain and knew everyone. She would go around the block, reminding people to move their cars on street cleaning day, notifying us of neighborhood watch meetings, and generally looking out for us. She was fearless and would talk to anyone in her blunt, no-nonsense manner. Everyone knew K.
When I went to the hospital to have my daughter, K had inquired after me from my cousin, and, noticing that my front lawn needed mowing, had asked her nephew to mow it for me. She later said that she would have had him mow the back yard, too, except my gate was locked and she couldn't access the back yard. After that, my mother and I asked her nephew to be our gardener and he has cared for my garden ever since.
When I had a problem with the neighbors behind my house (their small children kept throwing trash over the fence into my back yard), it was K who went with me to talk to the neighbors.
When my mother fell and broke her hip, K volunteered to walk my daughter home from the elementary school, two blocks down (I was too nervous to have my daughter walk home alone, even though it was only two blocks from home). And K was my go-to person when I needed someone to check in on my mother during the day, when I was at work. It was K who found my mother, seated in her chair and unresponsive, on the day my mother died. It was a day when K's nephew had come to do the garden and together, they called the paramedics and notified me at work.
Then, K, herself, fell and broke her leg. She recovered from her fall, but gradually, she became more feeble and confused. She fell again, more recently, and had to be taken to a nursing home.
This morning, her nephew who does my garden called me. K passed away, this morning, he said. Rest in peace, K. You were a blessing and will be missed.