I miss Eddie. He was not my grandfather, but he kept my grandma company after my grandfather died. He lived next door, in a little green house on Sleepy Hollow Drive down the shore. His wife died when I was very young.
Eddie loved to visit us at my grandma’s house. He would smile and trade niceties about the weather, but he never really talked with us about anything of substance. Still, he was our substitute.
We stopped seeing him when my grandma moved to a rest home, an hour and a half away from the shore. She didn’t remember him, and the gap in her memory seemed to affect my parents, too. I don’t know if he even got a Christmas card from us.
We got a call in May. He had cancer and was going in for an operation. Later, he called to tell us he was not doing well. That was the last we heard for at least a month, until now.
We get a call from my uncle. Eddie’s neighbors tell him that men are moving furniture out of Eddie’s house, stripping it. They say he died a couple of weeks ago. They are shocked that we do not know. I wonder if they thought we were terribly rude, not showing up for the funeral. I picture the ceremony, nearly deserted, giving the impression that he has no friends or family.
I never really get to say goodbye. We do not know where he is buried. I think of him as alive; I cannot picture him dead. I cannot cry for him. The woman to whom he has willed his belongings does not return our phone calls. He is gone, but it feels more like he has been kidnapped, is being held for ransom, will be returned to us someday if we just wait long enough.