I saw her at my step father's funeral a couple of years ago. Her clothes were stunning. Her hair was expensively cut and coloured. I wondered who she was. Was she the neighbour? We took Mother home after the funeral and I her saw again out of Mother's lounge room window, walking her dog. Ok, she is mother's neighbour. I really did not know her at all.
When Mother moved to her house where she has lived for the last 35 years, her immediate neighbours were Des and Joan. Both were kind to Mother and helped often enough to get my siblings to to school or for medical appointments. Then Step Father came along and all got along well until Des and Joan separated. Des got stayed on and got himself a Filipina mail order bride. He chose well. They had a successful marriage and produced a high achieving daughter and all was good until he died.
As time went on after Step Father died, the widow next door and the newly widowed Mother became closer. After the break in, they became ever closer, checking on each other, looking for anything unusual but not being really friends. Why not friends? My mother is very old Australian. She was brought up with the words dago, Eyetalian and foreigner. Hang on, no that was me. But you get the gist. But whatever the racial differences, they were both widowed woman living next door to each other and supported each other.
Once home from our holiday I called Sister. Bone Doctor answered. After a brief chat, she said can I get your sister to call you back at a more convenient time? Ok, yes, 6.30 is a bad time to call, but I don't know their organisation and that dinner prep is underway. Bone Doctor only knows learned empathy. It is not natural to her.
Little Jo called back and then handed the phone over to Sister. R was on the receiving end and I noted something serious had happened.
R told me and then I spoke to Sister, but of course I had to call Mother and it was one hour conversation. Normally when talking to Mother the phone batteries go flat after twenty minutes, or the door bell rings, or someone calls on the other phone (I have a gesticulation to R to call me to make an audible phone ring). This time she and I needed to talk.
Mother's neighbour suicided in the bath.
She is Philippines born, a mail order bride, has a great daughter and son in law, still connected with her old Aussie style late husband's family, a working person at the very big south eastern hospital, not poor, has rich local Filipino friends and family back in the Philippines. She left a note. We don't know the contents. I met her a couple of times and I had one nice chat with her. But I knew her better because Mother often talked about her. I took her bins out for collections a couple of times because Mother suggested it
Essentially she was a successful person who took her life at the age of 63 and we don't know why. We are feeling a bit devastated about someone who we did not know well, but was such an integral associated part of our family history.
Later edit: I don't know if she was a mail order bride or she and her late husband met through some other avenue.
From the funeral, Mother learnt that she had a masters in teaching, was a chorister and theatre actor and later a fine karaoke performer. She loved her dog, who Mother is giving love to. She kept her house well. There were two hundred people at her funeral. Mother and ABI brother attended and became teary. She was not really religious but it was a Catholic funeral.
Her daughter spoke a eulogy and remained composed until the very end. Her son in law was a mess.
If you are a seemingly well and functioning person, topping yourself is one of the cruellest things you can do to your family and friends.