The “funeral” was a reception held by Dick’s five grown children at his house a few doors down. I arrived on time, and it was just them and me for awhile, but other people eventually began to trickle in. I ate too much; I drank too much; and my social unease probably led me to talk too much. After two hours, I figured I had done my duty, so I walked home.
Dick’s wife died two years ago. I tried to befriend him afterwards, but he showed no interest in such support as I had to offer, so I withdrew totally. Someone suggested that I still try to be there for him, just not so much, but I’m no good at striking happy mediums with people I can’t begin to understand. Dick was like my father-in-law, Earl, in that he was always polite but never present emotionally. I used to try to draw Earl out, but it was like beating my head against a wall, so I gave up. He will be here next week, and I anticipate giving little and expecting nothing because I don’t know what else to do. I met him 39 years ago, and I still don’t know who he is. Maybe he doesn’t either. I suppose that if a person smothers his emotions long enough, they eventually die. I figure that the best part of Dick probably died in childhood, so his funeral was but an anti-climax.
What I will remember best about Dick is that, after his wife died, he read magazines nearly all day everyday while sitting with his back to his picture window. I walked or biked past his house several times a day, and I made a game of trying to get by before he turned around and saw me, but I seldom could. He would wave and smile, and I would wave and smile, but I would mostly be wondering what in the hell he was doing. He spent the greater part of the last two years pretending to read but in reality turning around every few seconds to see who was on the street.
Today is gray as most days will be for the next six months, and my insides are gray too.
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