A lingering thought

Posted:  Thursday, October 5, 2017 - 2:15pm
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About this blog:

  • Sarah Thompson grew up in a household with at least one cat sharing the bed pillow at all times. She didn't see the Berlin Wall go up, but did watch it come down. Her energy and endurance were put to the test (mostly on the night shift) as an operating room technician for Labor and Delivery units in Maine and Colorado for ten years before a brief overseas volunteer trip prompted a change of occupation.
    Originally from Central Maine, Sarah, her notebook, and a large cache of semi-dry ink pens now reside in the Midcoast.
     

What I would have said, had I attended the funeral for the Navy veteran who was buried without living relatives at his side:

I didn’t know Mr. Marshall, but I knew another with a similar story.

As I grew up in Central Maine, a single man lived next door. He, too, had a history of military service.

Through the years, he accumulated a few surrogate families, including my own. These non-blood relatives adopted him as much as he adopted them. But in the final years it was my family, my mother in particular, who cared for the man known for his daily trips to McDonald’s.

My mother wore the cap of power-of-attorney, care coordinator, and chauffeur.  It was she who facilitated the purchasing of all items necessary for his comfort. On every item, she wrote his name in permanent marker.

After his passing, those items were dispersed. Some to my parent’s house, some to me, and some to charity.

To the end, he was well cared for by the nursing staff and by my mother – a member of the community with no obligation to his welfare. A novelty, she is told, for any kin-less ward of the state to have a person like her.

On occasion, after his death, our house randomly smelled of McDonald’s hamburgers. My mother smelled them, and, though I didn’t admit to it, I’ve smelled the distinct meaty, ketchup-y aromas as well.

Now, years later, having seen my article of Marshall posted, I retired to my bed with my journal. A corner of the comforter usually unseen was turned at an angle. My next-door-neighbor’s name stared at me, and continued to do so as I wrote.

In the morning, it stared at me again.

I pushed my feet into my running sneakers and hit the pavement. My intended route was simple: Main Street to Maverick to Broadway to home. Yet, when almost to Maverick, my inner child demanded to visit the Breakwater. A short yes/no battle ensued, but of course, my inner child cannot be told no. So I went.

As I passed McDonald’s, the wind from the west pushed the restaurant’s smells over me.

Okay John. I get the hint.

Mr. Marshall may not have had blood relatives to give a proper sendoff. An estimated 50 people attended his funeral, most didn’t know him. But still, they were his family.

Before and after death, he was never alone.