Wednesday, February 07, 2007


Yes, I have a small quilt done enough to have photographed -- another star quartet, but I'm just picturng another butterfly because I'm contemplating life and death today. Actually I am not morbid but, truly, I think about the death part a lot. It hits me on the news every morning; I think the statistics are white sound for many. It is not for me, I HEAR it and picture those deaths, be they Iraqis or tornado vicims in Florida.
But in particular today's thoughts are about a co-worker only a few years older than I who retired about six years ago. She had many health problems including obesity and she said matter-of-factly that she did not expect to have much longer to live. I went with her and her best friend to the ballet a number of times, besides, of course, seeing her at work. I never felt we were close friends but I liked her and enjoyed her company.
Patrick, who owns the business has spoken to me about Ann occasionally since she left. He said a few days ago he couldn't reach her and did I have her friend's phone number. I did. Today he told me Ann died nearly a year ago and wanted no one to know, except the one good friend. She had no immediate relatives, only a very aged cat. No estate, only some furniture and personal possessions. Patrick said he couldn't help thinking of how a person can disappear so totally and even anonymously.
In contrast, as I told Patrick, a column in a paper yesterday told of a homeless man, coincidentally on 21st Street where our business is, but not in our block, who had made friends with everyone on the blockwhere he hung out. He did not beg, but people gave him money, food, clothes, haircuts. He gave people advice, told women they looked lovely and befriended kids. Sometimes, if he had a little money, he took a room in a $40 a night Times Square area hotel. Apparently he did that at the beginning of this cold spell, and he was found dead, probably of heart attack or stroke, a couple days ago. The people on the street were devastated, as of the writing they had collected $10,000 in cash and pledges to have a cremation and a memorial for him.
Ann wanted privacy and that is what she got during her final illness. The homeless man wanted a cadre of friends and being a friend was his only vocation apparently, and he got just what he wanted. Perhaps he needed medical care he did not seek. Two ways to chose to live and end a life. Not what most people want but who's to say either death was sad beyond the sadness of any life ending?

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