Before we bought our house in 2018, we rented a nice little house in the U of L district.
We moved there from Miami when my son was just 7 weeks old. -It was late February.
Once the weather was nice, I used to walk up and down the dead-end street with the baby in the stroller, and our then-4-dogs; the dogs and I built our way up to taking longer walks with the stroller pretty quickly.
I consider myself a highly sociable person, and typically befriend many of my neighbors.
There was a house on our street a few doors down, across the street, that had a lot of activity.
Cars coming and going, a walker or two coming and going. There were a 2 cars in the driveway that never left, one could almost assume they didn't run.
One afternoon as my husband and I were walking the dogs and our son, a man in his late 50's hobbled out on his walker, saying he knew we had called the police on his roommate, he knew my husband worked with his roommate's sister, and so-on.
"Look, we mind our own business Mister. If someone's not bothering us, we don't bother them," I semi-shouted back to him.
And that began what would become a special friendship between Skip and I.
Skip was a Vietnam Vet, he'd been a math major at Bellarmine. He owned the Granville Inn (the bar and the building) for many years. He had a lovely, overweight, black border collie mix when we met named Tripper.
I began walking Tripper with our dogs. She hadn't been walked in years. At first she was anxious on walks, panting a lot (Skip, his roommate and several of their friends were smokers), but she naturally came to enjoy the walks... smiling all the way as she panted, likely in part due to her 'smoker's lungs.'
There was a lot of drama to Skip and his roommate's life. Lori, the roommate, had been a bartender for Skip for years. She's a beautiful young woman but looks older than her age due to smoking cigarettes and years of hard living. And Lori was plagued with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. When she drank it brought out the worst in her. More than one person has a restraining order on her to my knowledge, and she's been jailed and institutionalized several times throughout her adult life.
But Lori has a heart of gold and she's honest... she doesn't steal or anything like that. You just want to steer clear when she's intoxicated and/or having a bout with her mental illness.
For more than a decade Lori was Skip's caregiver.
Skip was an alcoholic.
His door was always open; anyone could just walk in and say hi anytime. He was smart, calm and always made you feel right at home... unless he was too drunk, then he'd just be an ass, like any drunk. I remember being a bit taken aback the first time I popped in Skip's to say hi around 10:00 a.m. one morning (Sam and I were out playing), only to find him already drinking a Bush Light while watching tv.
Skip and Lori adored watching my son grow from the safety of their window. I could always feel Skip looking out on us, smiling, as Sam and I played on our dead-end street. They'd watch us ride scooters, bikes, play hide-n-seek, have stick wars (once Sam was bigger). Skip loved Sam like a grandson. He had never married or had kids of his own. And Lori had a son, but her parents raised him for her, out of state.
"I know it's time for me to get up and out of bed when I look out my bedroom window and see Fab's van is gone," Skip said to me one day, laughing.
That's when I knew, in a way, Skip lived vicariously through us. Watching our lives play out gave greater meaning to his own life.
He helped me out a time or two also... when I sold a very old RAV to a man that gave me trouble with getting the title signed over, Skip offered to call him for me.
I had been on this guy for weeks and he kept giving me the run around. I don't know what Skip said to him, but whatever it was, it worked. The guy got the info I needed to me the very next day.
Skip had this mob boss air to him when he wasn't too drunk.
-People respected him.
Then things went downhill for Skip. -We bought our own home a couple of miles away, and our move was to be hard on him.
Then it was discovered the man that ran his bar robbed him... the guy had him sign some ridiculous contract when Skip was very inebriated, and to my understanding that contract basically signed over the building and bar to this guy. -So wrong... but you can't live your life perpetually drunk and expect everything to just move along fine. Still, it was sad. Skip lost just about everything.
He had always told Lori that he had her in his will, that she'd be taken care of. He even told me that... I had mentioned it to him one day, as I did worry about Lori's future if something were to happen to Skip.
Skip up and decided to stop drinking in the fall of 2020. He died within a couple of weeks, in the hospital.
Lori works part time at a liquor store now and has Skip's dog, Jasper. She still lives at Skip's home... but she can't stay there for long.
-Turns out he did not have her in his will. His sister, with whom he hadn't spoken for several years, inherited everything he had, which was basically just the house.
Lori has to get out soon. I'm a backup for Jasper if she cannot take Jasper with her... to wherever she ends up.
It's a sad situation. Lori has been mentally stable and not drinking since Skip's passing. Taking care of him, having to literally pick him up off the floor at times, took a toll on her. This is apparently what was driving her to abuse substances.
This is just one story. Everyone out there likely knows of a similar story (not necessarily littered with alcoholism and such drama), but you get the point.
If you don't put it in writing, those that are nearest and dearest to you, may not 'be ok' once you're gone. And your pets... they cannot even talk. You must speak for them. So please create a will or trust, those nearest and dearest to you... including your pets.
Let's all do right by the ones we'll eventually leave behind. It's an easy way to make this world a much better place.
R.I.P. my friend and neighbor, Skip.
|Me, Jasper and Skip, sorry the pic is blurry, Jasper gets excited to see me!|