her stunning question
When I picked the boys up in Albany on Monday, I took a cab from the Albany bus station over to Amtrak, where I was to meet them and head home. I got a 60-ish man in a Pathfinder, and he had me hop in the front. He started chatting immediately, about his sore leg thanks to a fall off a chair and I forget what else, while he leaned across the front seat and tried to drum up another passenger or two before heading across the river. He gave up after a couple of minutes, and we took off.
He almost immediately launched into the story of losing his wife of 42 years just 10 months earlier. He talked of his first (very brief) marriage, and then of soon after marrying a 17-year-old while home from the army, and settling down. They had one daughter, and got along famously. She had been a hospice care worker, and then contracted some lingering illness that left her in the care of the very workers she used to manage. He said they all volunteered in shifts, he didn’t have to pay anything for it.
He then delivered the kicker. The day before she died, she was sitting up and chatting with him again like she was fine. The following day she lay there fading, and just before she passed she asked him to please come with her. He felt her last breath, and then passed out on the floor, only to come to awhile later and go about things in a daze. He said he couldn’t just throw forty+ years in the Hudson, but it sent him spinning so hard that his daughter moved back in with him for awhile.
The ride was only about 6 minutes, but I can’t forget it. I’ve heard of couples dying within hours or days of each other, and he was obviously still so filled with the strength of her request that he had to talk about it. I’m still thinking about it too …