We met a few months after I moved into my current home, probably back in 2007 or so.
Your dog, Babygirl had gotten loose. Babygirl, a red nosed pitbull, getting loose was like saying a love sponge was sent waddling down a driveway to shower you with licks. Dog's personalities always reflect their owners. This was a friendly dog.
Your son Bill, had gone out after her, apologizing the entire way.
I remember seeing you at the door waving and saying hello, then ducking back into the apartment.
You weren't the kind of person that got out and about the town, so by the time we met you, it was our good luck that you moved in across the street.
We grew to trade recipes. Later meals would be shuttled across the street. You made an amazing Lamb Dinner, one that I looked forward to having every year. The roast beef was excellent, and served up the way I liked them, rare. I'd return the favor with pulled pork, roast chicken, and the baked goods that I enjoyed making.
I knew not to bring over the Mango jelly and the raw fruit, you couldn't have them in the house.
It became a warm friendship. Whenever I'd leave the house, most times, I would just wave at the window where you sat behind. We knew that nothing would happen without your notice so we were fortunate to have the best burglar alarm we could, a neighbor watching over us.
Your retirement meant that we'd be doing the occasional meals together, trading war stories, hearing about how it was in hurricanes past and how we could better integrate in this environment here in South Florida. Despite what it appears to snowbirds, South Florida is not as straightforward a place to live as you may expect.
Some of the pictures of our life in the neighborhood together became treasured. I managed to get your Babygirl to pose, and she wouldn't do that for just anyone. That picture is still on your wall today, Babygirl smiling in the sun at me, as if to tell me that her own time was short.
Ellie came later and we all laughed as she would get out and run around the neighborhood. That is to say, I'd laugh at the time, and you'd laugh later.
Your laughter was always there. Somewhat reserved for good friends only, we got to see it often.
Ellie is a barky dog with a hair trigger, and she is why I got started waving at your window long before I left the property. She'd bark at me when I was on my own front porch, but she accepted our presence over here and later nearer to the house. I am one of the few "outsiders" that can calm her down.
Ellie was your protector and companion. She knew what was happening long before we did, and became more protective as a result.
We all had to intervene on you more than once when you tried to walk her. Ellie could tow my Jeep! So for you, walking the dog wasn't in the cards. You weren't quite up to that task.
As your cancer became apparent and finally diagnosed, we all did what we could to watch over you.
Ellie was there by your side, warning people to stay away.
Bill helped you get to and from your appointments and kept us filled in on events.
It gave me an excuse to bake more and put on another 5 pounds that I have to take off. On the other hand, maybe all that food helped you stay a little longer, we'll never know.
Eventually you were housebound. We have your key still in the hiding place.
I had to come over once to help you with a delivery when everyone was gone. I learned at that point that Ellie completely trusted me. She was barking at the nonsense coming in at the front door, me. I told her "Ellie, it's OK" and she quieted down completely behind the closed bedroom door.
What I didn't tell you was I was completely out of my depth. I was in your house setting things up for your medical apparatus. It does go together like the pictures, but that didn't help, I was too flustered to remember my glasses.
Not a good time to go in blind, was it?
Eventually I got you settled in, and went home. Half an hour later I was back when you got a delivery. Signing for that and taking it in was a bit of a stretch but I became your Other Son (with a wink) and it got to where it was going.
That was the last time I saw you. The reports coming from Bill became more dark, like an approaching thunderstorm in the wet season.
Finally the 24 hour nurses came. That went on only for a week.
Yesterday, in the rain, you left. It was right after 5PM.
Goodbye Lisa, we all will miss you.