My sweet, elderly neighbor Mildred died on Saturday. Today was her funeral mass at the local Catholic church.
We have known Mildred since we moved into the neighborhood. When her husband, Tony, was alive, he was the loud, chatty one. He would show us his extraordinary garden, invite us to his many yard sales, and shout hello at us from across the street. In his later years, he started to lose his grip a little, and would drive erratically around the neighborhood in a huge old station wagon filled with stuff. When he finally went to a nursing home, we all breathed a little easier because we had been so worried he would hurt himself or someone else.
After Tony died, we got to know Mildred a little better. She came out of her shell and would stand by the fence and chat. It was tough for her without Tony. Her health started to fail and she got frail rather suddenly. She had heart problems and diabetes. But always had a smile for us, and sweets for the kids. She invited me for coffee once and talked about her sons and their wives and children. We gave her our phone number so she could call if she needed something. She said she liked that we always left our lights on at night because it made her feel safer knowing we were right there for her. At some point Nguyen started shoveling her walk every time it snowed, for which she would thank him with little packages of cookies or chocolate covered cherries.
Today her kids thanked us for keeping an eye on her all these years. The secret truth, though, is that it was a real joy for us.
She was a good friend and we are going to miss her.
Please pray for the soul of Mildred Siravo.