He was 70, maybe 80
when his wife lay dying in the hospital
and it was our turn to make sure he got to bed OK.
I let myself in after dinner
noticing the cat’s moist food had dried up,
the refrigerator was left open,
and something smelled in the trash can.
Sam sat, as he always did, in his chair by the living room window
reading the newspaper by the light of a lamp
in a short sleeve plaid shirt, khaki pants
his black framed glasses perched neatly on his nose.
It was my job to tell him it was time to get ready for bed.
He seemed insulted by my being there,
folded his paper, made two, three attempts to get up
and upon steadying himself,
shuffled off to his bedroom while I
washed his plate, glass, fork and knife
opened a can of Friskies Buffet and
gave the cat fresh water.
I sat in his wife’s chair and waited
looking around me, at photos of a young couple,
mementos of World War Two
and a collection of knick-knacks placed on faded cream-colored doilies
while he paced back and forth from living room to bathroom
in boxer shorts, white undershirt, brown socks
pale sagging skin
and disheveled white hair.
I made him nervous I know,
it breaks my heart to remember.
“Are you leaving yet?”
“Yes Sam. Goodnight,”
I locked the door behind me,
cut through the back yard
and went inside where I continued to watch him
from our own kitchen window
until he finally turned out the light.