I walked across the street to come around behind her, the feeling I'd been fighting all day starting to get the better of me. All the neighbors were with her, sitting in her driveway on lawn chairs watching the days proceedings. I put my arms around her neck and said,"I wish.... I wish" then my voice broke, leaving me the little boy that had always needed her. "I wish you didn't have to go!" She lived across the street and one house to the left, she and her husband Woody, when he was alive. They lived in a house that he built himself. It was red brick and neat as a pin, with a single car garage.
I remember helping Mr. Woody with his camper when he put it up for the winter. He liked to have it level, and resting on several points to hold through the long winters. He paid me in change and Diet Pepsi. I still think of him every time I have a diet cola.
She, was my own real life guardian angel. As a child I was all boy, and too rowdy to survive. She was a retired surgical nurse; she had other ideas.
As a young child I used to get sick every winter with a high fever that would require a trip to the hospital for a shot. I remember my mothers worried voice on the phone to Ruth, and then her hands with a cool cloth. I remember the time I jumped/fell off the top bunk of my brother and I's beds to land and gash my eyebrow. She patched me up before sending me to the hospital for stitches. She later pulled them out in her bathroom. I was born to fix things. I spent my summer days when not playing ball fixing lawnmowers, and then putting engines in cars. Ruth watched me do all of this from the picture window in her house. Every time I got tangled up in a piece of equipment she would fix it. Me that is! One day the top part of our garage door came loose and swung down just as I was passing under it. The door hit me in the back of the head, sending me to the ground. I saw the black as they say when you're about to go under. She was right there checking the lump on my head and calling my mom.
As I got older the trouble got worse. The point finally came when she had to run my butt to the doctors, covered in blood.
I as a typical teenager had stolen my dads bad ass dirtbike and went racing. At over eighty miles an hour a dog ran out infront of me while I had a friend on the back. I layed it down and lost most of a leather jacket and all the skin on my forarms and left knee. The knee was also broken and swollen like a basketball. the kid I had on the back was ok but for a skinned kneee so he picked the bike up and then me. I got the bike to start but couldn't drive it the block and a half home. The kid I was riding and the kid I was racing got me on the bike facing the wrong way and one rode me home.The other went for Ruth. good as gold she put me in her car and took me to my Dr. Yep she knew him! They cleaned me and stitched me while Ruth took great delight as Dr. gave her the syringe to administer the tetanus shot. So here we were on a warm summer day watching people pick through her things as she cleaned out a lifetime of memories, in preporation to going to live with her son. "I wish you didn't have to go" I said. She reached up to hug me and replied, "Me too, but it's time."