Quiet stretched before Wayne like a road he remembered traveling in Montana–where the horizon remained the same mile after mile. Mary had passed away not quite two months ago. At the beginning, he’d wished for more quiet time some days as a contingent of siblings, children, grandchildren, and some small, noisy great-grandchildren visited. They brought food, arranged for a housekeeper (as if he couldn’t dust furniture and clean the toilet by himself), and talked and talked. Now, those visits seemed to have ended.
It wasn’t noise he missed. Television, radio, and the neighborhood supplied noise. But he felt like a bee that couldn’t make it back into his hive. The world supplied plenty of sound, but he missed the comfortable buzz he and Mary created. Even when they were quiet together, reading or watching TV or working at chores, they’d be commenting, asking if the other wanted something from a trip to the kitchen, or maybe humming a tune. There were visitors, too, who came to socialize–dinner guests, book club meetings, their kids dropping by. His and Mary’s little beehive of activity. Hardly ever very quiet.
Wayne traveled his lonely road for several months. Then, one day his daughter called to ask him to Sunday dinner and asked him how he was getting along. When she heard his dull, non-committal reply, Marsha told him she was going to pick him up and take him to the hospital on Tuesday.
“No. I don’t need to go to the hospital. Whatever gave you such a crazy idea? I’m fit as a fiddle,” Wayne said.
“I’m not checking you into the hospital,” Marsha said. “I want to show you what a great place it is to volunteer. Everyone there needs help finding something or someone. People need to be wheeled out to their waiting cars after they have their babies or at being released following a surgery. They’re usually happy and grateful to the people who help them.”
Wayne resisted at first. But after he thought about it, it seemed like a good way to honor Mary. She’d love to know he was helping people and staying busy. So he went with his daughter. And joined the volunteers. He loved it. Now, his days are no longer quiet, and the road ahead is studded with so many interesting places along the way that he forgets to pay attention to the horizon.