Visiting a Widow
When my wife Cindy was alive and we went shopping together at Pechin’s we would buy some extra fruit for a friend who lived along the route home. We knew the woman before she lost her husband and would sometimes we would stop to visit for about half an hour.
I knew them as a child from the old clapboard, one room church in Clinton Pennsylvania. They were good friends with my dad and mom. As I grew from childhood, they became my friends as well. He was a thin man with a ready smile and she was a sweet woman who laughed easily.
Because they lived along the Springfield Pike, it became natural for us to stop when my wife and I saw them on their porch and from those visits, my wife and children grew to know them as well. We were always welcome and they seemed to enjoy our children. Our children became comfortable with them, almost as much as with their grandparents.
It was hard to explain when her husband died. We didn’t take them to the funeral home. We didn’t think it was appropriate for them and would have been a distraction to other mourners. It was difficult to stop at her home, but we needed for her to believe we hadn’t abandoned her. It was more awkward for my wife and me, but our children continued where they were before her husband’s death, climbing onto her lap and playing.
It slowly evolved for us to buy some extra fruit: a bunch of bananas and a container or two of whatever fruit that looked good. That might be a bag of apples, a tray of oranges or a container of pears or tangerines.
She never said that she needed the fruit, but was always thankful. Cindy and I knew that she could use it, because after her husband’s demise, she took on jobs cleaning other people’s homes and became a sitter for sick clients at night.
When we moved, we didn’t drive by her home nearly as often, but we would occasionally make the detour so we could visit. She slowly aged and her family moved her to the same nursing home as my dad. We could visit more often. She remembered and called me Tommy when I would stop and talk to her. She and my father are gone now, but their memories linger.