"You wanted to hear from me if anything happened to Uncle Ted. I found him yesterday in the little house where he's been living. He was unconscious. At the hospital they told us he'd suffered a massive stroke. They don't expect him to live."
Oh, Reader Dear. It was unexpected! I had thought, you know, that I would go and visit him in his new location. I knew he'd be pleased to see me.
"I'm so sorry," I said. "Do keep me informed. If he comes back to awareness, I would like to send him something."
|Saying goodbye to Ted at move-out|
"Oh, that's not at all likely to happen," he told me.
"But I'll let you know," he said.
Then Ted left this world.
When the nephew's wife called to inform me of his passing, she said that Ted had specified in his funeral plans he did not want a service of any kind. I knew, of course, that the grave site was chosen long ago. The stone with his name had already been marking the spot for years. Ted's final resting place would be in a small cemetery just four or five miles from where he'd spent so much time earning his "Best Ever" tenant award.
But if there was to be no service or ceremony, then that was that, I supposed. I was a little disappointed not to pay my last respects.
I found another man to rent Ted's former space (and I didn't try to make it happen, but he's got the same given name!)
"I can come to sign the lease on Thursday, " New Tenant said, "Would 12:15 be okay?"
"Very good," I said. "Yes."
That evening I got a call. It was Ted's nephew. "The funeral home is going to put Uncle Ted's body in the ground tomorrow, Thursday. Two or three of us are going to be there. There isn't going to be a ceremony, but you are welcome to come. The undertaker said to be there at 1:00."
" Thank you!" I responded.
"I would really like to be there."
As we were all preparing to leave (earth was going to be moved at a later time) I went to my car and got the flowers.
I set the hyacinth and the dahlia beside Ted's stone and said quietly,
"May you rest in peace, dear Best Ever tenant. You've got a far better landlord now than I'll ever be--never a rate increase, and a never-ending lease!"
With a tiny lump in my throat I got in my car, turned on my windshield wipers, and drove away.