Ladd was our elderly neighbor in Unit 2. He was a shut-in with a condition where a cyst? something? in his stomach could rupture at any moment, catapulting him into a life-threatening emergency. So he and his wife were careful, and our neighbors in Unit 4 and we kept a tentative ear to their place at all times for them, especially whenever his wife was away.
Ladd was the first person to encourage musicality in Cub. He kept his window open as he lay on his bed or lounged on his couch, listening to Cub singing in the backyard or through our open window.
Cub would knock on their door, play with their cats, and talk to “Mr. Ladd” during the evenings as Ladd shook Cub’s chubby paw with his pale, frail one. And without fail, he would always tell Cub how much he enjoyed his singing. I’m not sure how many times a proud Cub gave a concert for him right on his porch.
He was a kind neighbor with a tender heart for the little ones in the neighborhood. He was a favorite of the twin boys who lived behind his home, too. On his last birthday, Cub, Pup, and the twins greeted him with a cake and sang happy birthday to him.
Yesterday, while we were eating snacks, I noticed his wife running here and there in front of our window. She seemed lost, panicked, agitated. This was so different from her usual, slow, calm movements. I had a gut feeling … and ran out and asked, “Vicky, what’s wrong?” She didn’t answer but looked at me with wide, stricken eyes.
I’ll never forget that look.
Just then our neighbor opened his door. She gestured frantically to him, and they ran back to her home.
The fire truck came first. Then the ambulance. Then the police cars.
Cub and Pup were so excited to see their favorite cars in person. But I told Cub that they were here because our friend Mr. Ladd was very sick. So we prayed for him, and Cub watched the flashing lights with more solemnity.
Later, we found out Mr. Ladd didn’t make it in time to the hospital. He was gone.
I felt so, so sad.
Cub had lost an incredibly kind friend.
Ladd was the first person in Cub’s life to so carefully watch him, note his gifts, and encourage him in them so vocally. And he was one of the first to encourage me to do the same.
And he was incredibly patient with all the bangings and jumping feet in our unit.
We’ll miss him.
Especially because I think we truly will never see him again.