Living With Perspective
It wasn’t a beautiful day in the neighbourhood yesterday.
We knew the driver, not well, but well enough that this doesn’t make any sense.
We knew him as a dutiful son, he visited his parents often, and we chatted in front of our house or out back where our steps are separated by a low fence.
Our neighbours have family gatherings every weekend.
Bus drivers are often chatty, they know how to do small talk with strangers, and he welcomed us to the ‘hood.
He had one of those big smiles, but he was a little shy, too, a little buttoned up, but definitely with a sense of humour, and friendly, just, friendly.
I know what I mean to say, he was of that husband/father/son material people everywhere recognize as good, a family gentleman.
For the first while, I thought he was a paramedic or a firefighter. He had that way about him, like he was on call. I guess it’s because I was often seeing him between split shifts.
He’d be working outside on this and that with his stepdad. Or inside visiting with his mother, the baker, the reader, the woman who said when I asked her if she’d watched the Liberal leadership race, “I’m not interested in politics, dear.”
They both marveled that he didn’t smoke, never had.
His mother knows her likes and dislikes. I get a vicarious thrill from her bluntness and will often throw topics out just to get a definitive pronouncement on its merits as far as she’s concerned.
Everything softened with a “dear” as punctuation.
This was a horrible accident that can’t have anything to do with who was driving that bus.
That’s the perspective I have now. And so I’m done with blame. And you should be, too. Enough with blame.
Yes, we know his parents. They’re our neighbours, the old-fashioned kind, and the couple I’ve blogged about before who weeded our garden while we were out. It happened our first summer here. As we approached our house we noticed something wasn’t right, it looked… better. When I said hello to our neighbours, sitting have a smoke on their front steps, they looked guiltily at each other, and the penny dropped.
Guilty garden gnomes.
“Did you do this?” I gestured at the tidy garden plot.
“Yes, dear. Do you mind?”
“Oh gosh, no, but I can’t have you weeding my garden. We should be doing it.”
“No no, dear. We don’t mind.”
<joke mode> “Did you do the back garden, too?”
“Oh gosh, no, I was just kidding. We’ll do it. I mean, we’ll get around to it.” <shamelessly thinking now how nice it would be if…>
“No no, dear. We want to do it. Can we?”
“Well, gosh, I don’t know.” <still in shameless mode>
But by the time I had weighed the embarrassment of having my senior neighbours weed our back garden against the prospect of it looking like the tidy plot out front, the weeding was done.
They were so pleased. Not so pleased when I insisted on giving him a little bottle of Cognac and her a potted plant.
“No dear. We’re neighbours.” But I insisted and they relented after I promised never to do it again.
This past summer I had a conversation with his mother about anxiety. We talked about every mother’s fear, how we hadn’t realized when we had children that we were dooming ourselves to be stalked by irrational fear for our trouble.
I was surprised, and a bit dismayed, to realize that it might never go away, she being near to a couple of decades older.
We laughed at ourselves, of course, because what control do any of us have, really, over death. It comes. As his stepdad put it yesterday, “He was here. Now he’s not.”
And I saw his son just the day before yesterday, coming out of their house, laughing over his shoulder, saying goodbye to his mother.
Maybe I shouldn’t be blogging this at all but I know the people behind yesterday’s news that is today’s news and will be tomorrow’s news. And if this can happen to them, it can happen to me, and it can happen to you.
I can’t stand that it happened, that’s all, and that their lives are like this, now.
Perspective makes all the difference and now I know why.