On my mail delivery route (26-plus years with the USPS, egad), I occasionally deliver cards: Xmas cards, birthday cards, anniversary cards, et cetera.
Then there are times where I find myself delivering cards addressed to The ______ Family. This is almost always an indication of a death in the household. And since the major portion of my route is a senior-community (age 55 and up) trailer park, these sometimes seem to outnumber the other cards.
One of my customers was a retired rural carrier, so we had talked a few times over the years. Last year, he had a stroke, and had been mostly house-bound since then, with his wife as his caregiver. Back a couple of weeks ago, I had been delivering mail to that particular stretch, when my customer and his wife's car pulled up to the curb, apparently returning from a doctor's visit or other errand. The wife helped him out of the car, and then helped him walk up the shallow ramp leading to their front porch.
She did this by standing behind him, close, almost as if they were doing an exotic dance. Her arms laid along his, her chest against his back. And slowly, they went up the ramp to their home, moving as one.
A few days ago, the Family of ______ cards began to arrive. Rather than leaving them in the mailbox today, I took the stack of cards to the door, where the wife told me that, yes, her husband had passed away earlier this week. I gave her my condolences, and I also told her what had passed thru my mind that time several weeks ago:
I told her that that scene of her helping her husband up the ramp had been so loving and so supportive, that I had wished at the time that I had had a camera with me.
- - - - -
And later today, in the regular-house section of my route, I found much of one street blocked by solid lines of cars along both sides of the street. Another of my customers had died (not too surprisingly; he'd been in his fifties, and very overweight) and the crowd was people coming to the post-funeral reception at his home.
What puzzled me for a moment was that so many of the people walking from their cars to the house were so casually dressed; there were a great many wearing shorts and t-shirts.
And then I saw one of the people had a brightly-colored towel over one arm, and I remembered that my customer had owned and run a custom pool-building business. And I realized that the reception must be not only that, but a wake for my customer.
And what better wake for a pool-builder than to throw a pool party?