Until about three months ago, there was a man living in my apartment complex who was super old. He was tall, frail and walked at his own pace. His car had Guerrero plates on a Mercury Sable that had to be as old as me. He never really spoke of his life there…just that he had lived a full life. I knew he had a family because once or twice I saw him picked up by people who looked like they could have been the age of his children.
Everyday, I’d see him walking out to eat at a restaurant across La Recta, where I sometimes passed to see him sitting there eating alone. He always had a smile for me and sometimes a kiss on my cheek. He seemed to really like hearing about my life…in my broken Spanish. He LOVED my dog who always went over to him to say Hello!
One day, he was waiting outside when I got home for an Uber…had an appointment on the other side of Puebla…we chatted and I came upstairs. About 15 minutes later, there was a knock on my door and it was him, explaining to me how his driver had cancelled and he couldn’t get Uber to send him another car…could I help him figure out his app. To make things easier for him…I just ordered him a car from my own phone and told him not to worry. He was so grateful, he walked away with tears in his eyes…something that always touched me.
Each day, we always saw each other outside…maybe me walking out to take my dog out or just passing him as he did his daily constitutional by cross the foot bridge for lunch. He always remembered my travel plans, the last time I saw him was the week before I traveled with friends to Zihuatanejo…and then when I cam back…I stopped seeing him. His car was in its normal spot, but it wasn’t moving as though he took it out and parked in another spot. I grew concerned as time passed.
There is an apartment just next to his with a couple who I had become friendly with…and one day while standing on my terrace, I saw them come out and asked them about him. It had at that point been a few weeks since I had seen my elderly neighbor, Enrique, and it was then when they told me that he had died. I was so upset, I immediately started to cry. I asked how, and both expressed surprise when they explained, “Well, he was old.” Yes, he was. But I had not really said good bye to him. He was all alone…he fed a stray cat each day…who I guess was starving now. How could that have happened with no warning to us?
I asked the manager of my complex about what had happened, and she explained that he had passed during a visit to his son’s house. She then went on to say that while there was also a daughter, that they had not gotten along. I felt so bad…the bitch! How could she not have had feelings for this poor old man? He was her father! The manager explained to me that was why his car was still there, no one had come for it…that the manager was going to have to have it towed.
Again, I felt so bad! What do you mean, have it towed? I had felt like we should keep it like a souvenir of him. The manager thought I was being silly and just laughed at me. Eventually, another couple came to live in his apartment…how dare they! And this was after I watched movers come to take away his furniture and the manager throw out his things. I felt so badly for this poor old man…who had just died…and all memories of him were just erased from everyone’s life. Life as he knew it had just come to end…just like that…leaving just a faint memory for each of us to remember…or to forget.