The Final Mow

The old man next door has passed away (cancer). Apparently, for the last few days he was sleeping most of the time while holding his late wife’s photo in his hand. That’s that then. They were nice neighbours. We used to have nice conversations over the fence (me with him, not her). I remember him saying a few months ago that he was taking anti-depression tablets because of the loneliness. I can imagine the desolation of bereavement in old age. After the very last conversation I had with him, he said 'see you later', or something to that effect as per usual and raised his hand. As he moved from the bins toward the archway into the back garden—planning to mow the grass—I wondered about the wave of the hand. I started wondering if it was meant as a farewell. Did he think he might not speak to me again. Perhaps I was reading something into it that wasn’t there. He didn’t seem like he was three months from meeting his maker but I knew the cancer was advanced. Would that be the last time I ever spoke to him? I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t had that experience of wondering if I’m seeing someone for the last time before. It's an odd feeling, like an uncertain, questioning premonition. I briefly spied him three times after that. The last one was as he went from car to house on two crutches. No more talking though.