IT WAS ANOTHER LAND-LORDING FIRST, the occurrence that prompted a phone call I received today. I hope with all my might it was the first and final all rolled into one.
I've got one particular tenant who's been unlocking the door at Apartment Fourteen for about thirteen years now, and calling the place home. He's so good about letting me know when unexpected or unseemly or problematic things go on at the apartment complex.
"I hate to inform you, " he'll say, "but I think you've got an extra tenant. That woman living two doors over, she's got some guy going in and out a lot."
Or, "When we had all that wind today, a really big limb came off that old tree over there beside the house. I don't think it did any damage to the roof, but it's blocking the driveway."
I'll tell you, Reader Dear, though eye-rolling and muttering nearly always ensue, I'm always grateful for these heads-ups.
"There's a whole living room suite out beside the dumpster!" was the word two days ago, on Monday morning.
"It appeared there on Friday night," my helpful tenant told me.
Now, if you suppose, Dear Reader, that this was the land-lording first to which I earlier referred, you are mistaken. I am sadly wishing that it were.
The shocking phone call came this morning. It was not from any of my tenants:
"You don't know me," the caller said, "but I am a sister of (a renter of mine), and she died."
Oh, my. It was a complete surprise! I hardly knew what to say. But after I'd hung up the phone, dressed, and was driving to the apartments, I listened to a message on my cell phone that I'd missed receiving yesterday evening. It was my tenant in Apartment Fourteen:
"You might want to get over here," he said. " There's all kinds of stuff going on--ambulance, police cars, a coroner...I think the heavy woman in the other building passed away."
Death was of natural causes, Reader Dear, which made it no less shocking, as she was younger than myself. She was always pleasant, and so grateful. "Oh, thank you. Thank you so much," she had told me on Monday when I called to inform her that finally, at long last, I'd found someone to fix her broken doorbell. "I really like my apartment, and I so appreciate having you for a landlord. You're a very good landlord," she told me.
They were the last words she would ever say to me.
It was a land-lording first.