As I neared his house I saw him out in the yard raking leaves. For some reason on this day I pulled into his driveway. “Hey, looks like you are doing a good job, when you are finished why don’t you come on down to my yard and rake my leaves?” He looked up smiled and walked toward my car. “Oh I really don’t like yard work that much but I guess it won’t hurt me to do a little yard clean-up. Elizabeth loved yard work and she liked to see the leaves raked.” We talked just a bit more and then I went on my way.
A week or so later I again came upon his house and there he was again out in his yard raking leaves. “Hey this is getting to be quite a habit you have,” I said to him once again pulling in his yard. “Yea, I guess it is” he said. We talked a bit about the high school football game the previous night and a bit of other small talk and then I was on my way.
As I drove on home his previous words “Elizabeth loved yard work” came back to me. His wife of thirty or so years had just died of cancer less than two months previous.
All summer long you smelled like lotion
And we made love when we took the notion
Summer is gone and it’s hard to believe
How lonely I am raking up leaves
Raking up leaves and counting the days
Yes and counting the nights that you’ve been away
The winter winds blow and memories freeze
I’m missing you and raking up leaves
(Tom T. Hall)
We all can hide and mask our loneliness and hurt in various ways. Can’t we?
October 22, 2013