It is barely dusk when the doorbell starts ringing.
I open the door to, “I know I’m eighteen, and I can’t believe I’m doing this.”
She actually looks about fifteen, still way too old for trick or treating.
I toss a candy bar into her pillow case, and add “Now, if you hadn’t told me I wouldn’t know you’re eighteen, but here you go anyway.”
As quickly as we can service a collage of pirates, princesses, and monsters, another group arrives.
Dirt Man answers the door to a trio of girls. One of them says, “Your neighbor wants you.”
“This sounds like a trick to me.”
“No, really. She said to get you.”
“What does she want?”
“I don’t know. She just said to get you.”
Dirt Man places the bowl of candy down and tells me he’ll be back in a minute.
I continue to give candy out to several groups of toddlers, kids, and many well over the trick or treat age limit. I am a bit baffled at how many teenagers are going door to door for candy. After a few minutes, I wonder if Dirt Man has possibly been tricked. I walk outside and don’t see anyone out front. I even stretch around the drive and peer behind the bushes between our next door neighbor and our driveway. No sign of him. I think it’s strange, but figure she must need help with something inside.
As I am walking back inside a fire engine pulls up and slows right in front of my house. My heart sinks. It parks on the other side of the street. The door to the house opens and I see Dirt Man standing behind the door with the elderly homeowner seated in a chair. Not the neighbor I thought needed him. Shortly thereafter, an ambulance pulls up.
Amongst sirens, flashing lights, screaming and running kids, Halloween continues all around us.
The bottom line is Halloween very possibly saved this woman’s life. She lives alone and chooses not to associate with anyone. The only people that ever go to her door (or maybe I should change that to the only people she answers the door for) are her lawn service men. Had it not been Halloween, no one would have rang her doorbell. Trick or treaters rang her bell and she somehow managed to make it to the door to ask them to get us to help her. When Dirt Man got there she was clutching her chest and said something was wrong, she didn’t feel well. He went to call 911 and saw her phone was pulled out of the wall and the handset was dead. Fortunately, he had his cell phone with him.
Dirt Man called me to see if I knew about her next of kin for him to give to the medics. I had a number she gave me a good fifteen years ago that was now disconnected. While giving out candy, I made calls to anyone I could think of who might have a clue as to her relatives. I got a few leads, but ended up some were dead or couldn’t be found.
We went to the hospital later. She was less confused and stable. She told us her phone had started speaking Spanish (reset to the default, and she wouldn’t ask anyone to fix it for her), so she unplugged it, thus the dead batteries. She was able to give us the name of a relative, though she hadn’t had contact with them in years. She asked us to go into her house and turn off her coffee pot. When we did, we looked up the name in her rolodex and called. This relative said she’d call the others. The hospital put us in their system as a contact in case the relatives did not step up to care for her. The hubby went to the hospital the next morning and she was better. One relative had been by there and another had called him back. Meantime one of the relatives came by the house and told me they’ll be here for her if she allows it.
This situation saddens me. I realize it happens all over the world. People age, get sick, die, and they do it all alone. Maybe by choice, maybe not. Maybe out of pride, maybe anger…who knows why…
I just want to say, life is too short to go at it alone. Even if you don’t have family, stay in touch with your friends or at least have contact with your neighbors. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. If you live alone, I beg you not to isolate yourself. Don’t push the world away, there just might come a time you need someone.
Sprite’s Keeper: Halloween Show and Tell