Tuesday, February 26, 2013

I Lost a Buddy Last Night

Neighbours.   His wife called close to 10.   He didn't have the strength to get himself off the toilet and she didn't have the strength to get him up either.  I said I'd be right over.

I went in my old Harley tee-shirt and sweat pants, a real "come as you are" party, figuring I'd have my pal safely into bed and be home in no time.

I hesitated as I neared their bathroom to make some sort of smart-ass remark to let my buddy know I was there and was coming in to help him.   No guy, even if he is 78, wants to deal with that.  He quipped something I vaguely remember as suitably sarcastic right back but damned if I can recall what I said or his retort.  All I know is that was the last thing ever said to him and the last thing he ever said either.

He looked up, plainly distressed, and reached out one arm.  I grabbed his hand and forearm and tried to lift him up but the more I pulled the more he sagged.   Finally I reached forward, put my arms beneath his, and lifted.

His devoted wife of 57-years worked out how to get his walker between us.   He grabbed the handholds and we moved toward the bed less than ten feet distant.

One step and I could tell he was distressed.  He'd taken a sleeping pill about a half hour earlier and we figured he was just passing out. 

I got behind and put my arms beneath his hoping that I could carry most of his weight so that he could get himself to his bed.  He died in my arms.   His head fell, he lost his grip on the walker, and he gently fell to his knees.  I lowered him onto the carpeted floor.

We thought, at first, that he'd passed out from the sleeping pill and his chronic fatigue.   He just went down way too gently for death.  Yet death it was, gentle or no.

By today's standards he was lucky.   He died in his own home, his wife of 57-years and a good buddy at his side.  And he went down easy, real easy, and I laid him down to rest.

He was one of the good guys.  Big, robust and, in his younger years, utterly rowdy but with a heart of 24-carat gold.   Much like my own father.   They were both top-tier lacrosse players and never shied away much from a scrap either.

After he passed his love of life had to deal with paramedics, advanced paramedics, the fire department guys., the RCMP, the coroner and the funerary attendants.  I think she got 2-hours rest last night.  I bagged 3.

I'm sick and tired of truly good people dying around me.  Too many, too fast.


the salamander said...

.. Aww ...

Brave of you to carry word of your friend and neighbor's passing into the arms of the public, the web, and fellow Canadians

Got zero doubt he crossed over, feeling he was in the right place.. was A-ok .. with his wife and a strong friend n caring neighbor right there looking out for him

A life well lived .. is the simplest n most eloquent compliment one can hope for .. and I'll hoist one for your neighbor today, for his family, for his friends .. and he will be mentioned, well regarded and thought of today.. in the flatlands of Ontario, by the lake

He was a Canadian ..
so celebrate him and his life and family n friends accordingly ..
I will too .. We will too

Stay strong for all of them..
friends n family & neighbors
in the next challenging days

Stay strong for yourself too ..
and draw strength from all of us ..
You deserve it .. have earned it

Condolences from Ontario ..
from the O'Donnell clan
with care & respect
our best hopes
and best wishes

Remain Strong ...

Kirbycairo said...

There is nothing anyone can say at these times. It seems like yesterday that I watched the life slip from my fathers body in much the same way and I just wrap my head around the fact that the most loving, generous, caring friend I ever had could slip away just like that. And every day since then I can't believe it all over again.

Hang in.

Jim Parrett said...

My heart goes out to you, BCL. Be strong. Learn from your friend. He left you some wisdom, I'm sure.

Lorne said...

My condolences on the loss of your friend, Mound. Sometimes just being there is all we can do. It sounds like your presence must have been a comfort to him and his wife.

Owen Gray said...

This cannot be an easy day, Mound -- for his wife or for you. But he went down gently. Would that we could all meet death so gracefully.

LeDaro said...

Mound, my sincere condolences on the passing of your friend. The story made me sad. I am sure the gentleman and his wife admired your sincerity. It should be consoling that you were holding your friend when he gently passed away.

Anonymous said...

My condolences on your loss. He was lucky to have his wife and yourself by his side in the final moments.

Grant G said...

Time, in time it gets easier, so I`m told..

Not easy to talk about, even harder to write..

Bless his spirit, the father, son and holy ghost..

And you, his friend indeed.

Boris said...

It is a privilege to be let into someone's life in their most intimate and personal moments.

Anonymous said...

I am very sorry for your friends wife and family. You gave your friend the greatest gift, a friend can give. You were there, at his passing.

I don't think anyone gets over the death of, parents, siblings, friends and others they care about. Gradually you cope with the pain and, accept the fact they are truly gone. We never forget them.

Purple library guy said...


The Mound of Sound said...

Thanks, every one, for your kind thoughts. He was such a great guy and a fine friend.

karen said...

My condolences, Mound, on the loss of your friend.

Beijing York said...

My condolences as well, Mound. That account of that final exchange, one between life and death, was so vivid and heartfelt, I almost feel like I was there. And many of us have been there in one way or another, with a friend or family member, that it touches to the core.