Friday, January 28, 2011

"Blowin' in the Wind"

We've all seen stories on the news describing unfortunate events resulting in someone's death.  The stories that catch my attention the most are types like these:

-  93 Year Old Woman Killed By Home Intruder
-  83 Year Old Man Dies in House Fire
- 70 Year Old Couple Trapped in Car Plunging Into River
-  8 Residents Perish when Tornado Demolishes Nursing Home
-  Bus Filled with Senior Citizens Struck by Train, 9 Die
-  Elderly Woman Accidental Victim of  Drive-by Shooting

Yes, the kind of tragic event which causes the untimely death of an elderly individual.  It is tragic when anyone dies in such events, but when it happens to an older person it makes me want to cry and shout, "No, Unfair!"  "Unjust!"  "Not Right!!" and most of all, "Why??" 

These people have lived for decades and have survived all manner of things; yet they have come through and lived to reach old age.  It should be a time for them to do whatever things they want (and can) do, to enjoy their families, to savor their good health (or as much of it they have), to live each moment, and be assured that they are safe!  By that age they have the right to feel like they are survivors, for they are!  They can reasonably expect that their health may go, their minds may weaken, and that death will eventually come, but they don't expect it to happen accidentally! 

But death is cruel and unfair and indiscriminately chooses it's victims and methods without regard for fairness or reason.  It is so sad.  It makes me angry sometimes.  It is certainly no reward for a lifetime of survival or for a life well-lived.

We received word yesterday of the death of our friend, Bill E.  Bill was somewhere between 85 and 90 years old.  His wife of 60 years, Fleda E., died just last April after a long illness.  It was about 15 years ago when we lived in California that we met Fleda, and then Bill, through our mutual love of theater. 

Fleda was one of the dearest people I've ever known.  I considered her my theatrical mentor.  I admired, respected, and came to love her.  I learned so much about theater and about my skills and talents from her.  Besides, she had a wicked sense of humor, she made me laugh.

Bill's interest and talents in theater were more as a support to Fleda.  His professional skills were in the area of computers, and technology.  We didn't know Bill nearly as well as well as Fleda, but we had shared a few evenings with them both and enjoyed their company tremendously.  Bill was a low-key, soft-spoken, quiet man, with a wry and witty sense of humor.  He was a wonderful counterpoint to Fleda's more flamboyant nature.  He always struck me as a dear, gentle soul.  I liked him quite a lot.

We received a Christmas note from Bill just after Thanksgiving this year.  In fact, it was one of the first Christmas greetings we received.   I was pleased to hear from him and was very glad to know he was well.  Widowers often do not do well alone, but Bill's letter was very reassuring that he was not one of them.

However, yesterday, we received a note from one of Bill and Fleda's daughters, informing his friends that tragically, Bill had died on January 17 as the result of complications from severe burns he had received during a freak car fire just before Christmas.  His family was devasted.  Mikey and I were both shaken and sad.

NO!  Unfair!  Unjust!! It can't be true!!  Not Bill!  Why???

As I re-read his Christmas letter it made me so sad.  He was living in a small cottage on his son's property and was enjoying being close and in an area new to him.  There was a duck pond visible from his window!  This dear man was looking forward.  His last paragraph said,
We Kentuckians tend to be long lived -- I just had a pleasant visit from two Kentucky cousins, both 92 -- so I hope that this will be but one of many opportunities that I will have to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.
Sadly, this is not to be; he is gone now.  He did not have the chance to "go gentle into that good night" as he deserved.  I don't understand why these kinds of things happen.  I expect I never will understand. I suppose it's another of those questions whose answer is "blowin' in the wind".

Rest in Peace, Bill.  We are glad we knew you.


  1. Oh no! That's such a tragic reason to die. I'm so sorry. :(

  2. No matter the age, it's always hard to lose a friend. My thoughts are with you.

  3. May he rest in peace. Hang on to the wonderful memories. He will live forever in your heart.

    I have become a new follower.

  4. Very sad. It's always difficult to hear about a friend's death - regardless of age or circumstances. Makes us face our own mortality.


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