Our neighbor died last week. Andy and I were in the kitchen when we noticed two police cars and a motorcycle cop trying to get in to her house. Andy went out to investigate. She was in her 70s, living in her childhood home, never married, with no children. And mean as a snake.
Her house is on the street behind us but our driveway is in back and abuts hers. The driveways were never clearly delineated and she had a sense of ownership over the entire area. When Andy began parking in our driveway, there were words. I'll never forget the time I arrived in San Antonio on my first post-baby business trip. I called home from the hotel to check on HRH and let Andy know I'd arrived safely. He abruptly ended the phone call, saying that Jane had called the police and he needed to attend to them. Eventually, we had a survey of the land done and sent a lawyer's letter.
We were just the latest in a long line of neighbors to wander into her cross-hairs. In addition to her claims on our driveway, she would also become enraged should any visitor or neighbor deign to park in front of her house. Upon her arrival home, she would sit in her car for as long as 20-30 minutes leaning on the horn until the perpetrator realized his mistake and moved the car. Good neighbors, whose natural inclination was to help an elderly lady were completely rebuffed. All but one had simply given up trying; she faithfully sent her son over every Thanksgiving with a plate for Jane.
In more than six years, we never saw a friend or family member visit. We had maudlin-ly joked that we'd know she was dead when the smell wafted over to our house. In the end, she missed a couple of doctor's appointments and the police were summoned to her house one last time to perform a wellness check.
Neighborhood rumor has it they found her sitting at her kitchen table and she'd been there for at least three days. Three days of no one missing you. The police quizzing neighbors for possible next of kin. There wasn't an obituary posted.
Today, a crew arrived and parked a dumpster outside of her house, right in "her" parking spot. All day long, they've been tossing mattresses, clothes, boxes, and papers out of windows and carrying it out of doors.
Three days to notice she was dead. Less than seven to begin to erase 70+ years of accumulated detritus, substantiating her life.
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