The sadness of his look made me include it here
This is the final chapter in Helen's life , the saddest chapter .
Helen wa old and feeble , loved by nobody , missed by nobody , and visited in death by a nephew who never visited in life . For many years she had no connection to the outside world . Her first encounter with the world outside her apartment door was ( as described in my last entry ) when her apartment had to be stripped and cleaned with new carpets and drapes installed . The poor lady was terrified that someone would see her in her weakened condition . We kept the incident under wraps and Helen's privacy was maintained . This was her only interaction with other people in more than ten years and she wanted no more of it .
She was still an angry , frightened and bitter person but we understood her a little better .
If a tree falls in the forest and nobody sees or hears it does it really matter that the tree ever existed , one tree among millions .Does it make a difference to the world or to the forest that the tree will soon be erased from memory , that it will become nourishment for the soil from which it sprung .
It matters ! The tree provided a living and a home for the creatures of the forest , the tree is part of a network , a recursive system which feeds on itself .The hundreds of seedlings which came from that tree will not all survive but some of them will . The birds that call the tree home will come back every year to nurture their young , this is what these trees contribute to the world .
Helen had been a nurse in her life and devoted her life to helping others .Towards the end of her days she was so embarrassed and ashamed of how she looked that she would never venture outside to see a doctor or a hairdresser and had no friends . As her isolation became more pronounced her bitterness towards her own life became bitterness towards the world . Nobody had seen Helen's face in many years , anything she wanted or needed was delivered and left outside her apartment door after she buzzed in the delivery person .
The reader would be surprised and totally amazed at the conditions lurking behind the doors of many " respectable looking , well dressed " people . When you have to deal with people's privacy rights and their right to live as they please you must not get too peronal people will become very defensive very quickly , you cannot interfere with the lives of tenants or comment on their private lives , this may open a messy can of worms ( trying to Fix people) ..
A young doctor lived in the apartment next door . This doctor was an intern at a big city hospiital and like all interns she was so overworked that her apartment looked like a bomb had gone off in there !!! For a long time she would not let anyone into her apartment and never asked for repairs until her kitchen sink backed up and she had no choice . She just told me to let the plumber in and I did not see her again for about seven days , she avoided me because she was embarrassed by the messy condition of the apartment . Many tenants were just disasters as far as housekeeping was concerned so it was not unusual for people to keep a low profile and not let anyone in their apartment unless it was an emergency . Some people were simply so overworked that they could barely function .
Example . The doctor came to my door at about 5:30 AM , literally screaming at me and asking what I had done to her car ?? I eventually calmed her down and was able to get a word in . I asked her where and when she had seen her car last . I drove it into the garage and someone must have stolen it . The garage had mostly Porches Mercedes , BMW - all the big ones , she drove a piece of junk so I tactfully informed her that it was highly unlikely that someone had stolen it from a locked garage with security cameras . I asked her again where she had seen her car , Had she visited the corner store when she came in at 1 AM ?. She thought for a minute and sheepishly said -- yes . Problem solved . She forgot she had driven to the store and walked the two blocks home with the milk she picked up for her morning coffee . This was a doctor who was going into a hospital treating patients !!!! This is why her apartment was a mess , she couldn't remember what day of the week it was .
I am trying to explain how Helen got to be the way she was and to explain thet she had been a good person who cared for others all her life and just did not know how to ask for help until it was almost too late for anyone to hear .
The Doctor I spoke of earlier lived in the apartment next door to Helen and neither tenant ever complained about the other .
At about 6 AM one morning the doctor came to my door again but not screaming at me on this occaision . She looked a little puzzled and I asked what the problem was . She said that she heard a noise in the vicinity of her apartment that sounded like a cat or a small animal of some kind . The building had a no-pets policy so there were no animals that I knew of . We went back to her apartment and stood inside and listened , there were no strange noises . She said that it was like a whining sound . I thought that soneone may have a cat without approval or the Doctor imagined it all .
When the Doctor returned home from work at maybe 2 AM she again knocked on my door . She heard this noise again and it sounded more persistent and steady . I went to her apartment and immediately knew what the sound was . After knocking and getting no response except for the very low moan or squeaking like a mouse I used my key to open the door . Helen always kept her chain on the door and these chains cannot be easily forced or broken . Luckily I had a large bolt cutter in the basement and went to get it while the Doctor reassured Helen that we knew she needed help . I returned and cut the chain . The doctor waited while I looked inside . The apartment looked clean and neat , thanks to the regular visits by the lady who cleaned the building once a week . I quickly saw that Helen was on the floor between the bed and the wall . As I rushed over ( I wore just socks ) I stepped in something soft and aquishy and it soaked my foot . I leaned down to see how bad she was and she whispered that she was ok and just needed help to get up I sather on the bed and told her that the lady next door was a doctor and wanted to help , she went ballistic and just kept saying " No " . I asked her if she had medication that she needed and she said no but there was something she wanted , just ask , I said . The poor woman could barely talk and I saw that she was dehydrated so I offered her water . No , No she said , in the drawer over there there is a pack of cigaretted and a little bottle of brandy . I told her that I could not give her a cigarette and she protested so much and panicked so badly that I lit one and gave it to her . The light was off and it was still dark in the apartment except for the streetlights . I lit the lighter and almost dropped it on the floor .Helen was so pale and her face was so thin that her skin looked like a plastic sheet drawn tight to her skull , her hair was a mess and I thought that she could die any minute . As I got up to tell the Doctor that I would call 911 and get Helen some help she came around the bed and saw Helen's face and stopped in her tracks , turning white herself , poor Helen looked so scary . The Doctor left and I turned on a lamp .
I sat on the bed and put my arm around her shoulder and poured her a little brandy . We both knew she would not survive this and the brandy calmed her , until I mentioned Paramedics . She started to shake and said No repeatedly . I quietly said that I would have to call someone , and she said , later . I hugged her and told her everything would be OK , This was probably the first time she had been hugged in many years , I thought of my own Mom
So we chatted as much as she could manage . She said she had been on the floor since Friday morning , this was Monday morning . She told me that she had decided to just stay there and die alone on the floor , that she hated her life and wanted it to end . She did not know why she had started calling for help , I think it was lasting longer than she thought it would and did not want to suffer . I told her that she did the right thing and as soon as she felt ready to go I would call the Paramedics . Her only demand was that she would not be taken to the closest hospital because she used to work there when she was younger . .
A couple of days later we went to see Helen and she was in a coma , all the time she was on the floor had taken its toll and Helen would only survive for about five days . She was hooked up to many machines which kept her alive , technically .
Helen finally died warm and comfortable and well taken care off and if you can't actually save a life this is the next best thing .
Her nephew came by the building after the cremation but had very little to say . He did say that she was very difficult to deal with and
just did not want anyone , I don't know how hard he tried but who am I to judge .
If you got this far Thank You , that was a very difficult day . Magoo .