A few years ago, the group began to splinter. The vivacious septuagenarian Harry (well documented on this blog) passed away in his home in 2012. Some time later my in-laws' next door neighbors literally left in the middle of the night; it seems that the husband was involved in some sort of scam and someone caught wind of him (crazy story). Another lady, we'll call her Ava, refreshingly sophisticated in her speech, became unable to drive. My MIL had a fight (culminating in tossed red wine on a white shirt) with a particularly cranky Italian guy in the group and they were estranged for awhile, though reconciliation followed within a year. You also learned that my step father in law died from pancreatic cancer last April.
The gatherings continued, albeit far from regularly. The departed were greatly missed, but the others - including a former fashion model and her younger, loud, good ol' boy beau - kept things lively. The cranky Italian guy's health continues to decline, but he still kept a daily work out routine in his garage. His behavior had always been iffy - swore like a sailor, drank too much (not unrelated, of course) - but last year he seemed to mellow, especially with my step FIL's passing. Many of us were/are surprised he's still with us.
So when MIL decided on New Year's Day that she would "get the old gang back together" it seemed like a good idea. I picked up the vehicle-less lady (also a former model, BTW) and met the rest back at the house. Everyone was chatty and things were fine for a little while. While there weren't as many hors d'ouevres as in the past (Italian guy and his wife used to bring a tasty antipasto), the snackies were hitting the spot. A traditional good luck meal of ham and beans was complimented by all. Meanwhile, Italian guy, we'll call him Tony, had been downing the vino steadily but without incident.
Tony wanted another glass. My MIL denied him. Tony got angry and started using four letter words. But to back up a bit, apparently some of the other guests brought a wine bottle that was filled with some fruity non-alcoholic beverage intended for Tony. They assumed he wouldn't know the difference, hoping it would work like a placebo or something. My MIL poured for him, thinking she was giving him the innocuous stuff, but apparently there was a mix-up. Like in a bad sitcom. Tony started throwing tantrums, complaining that everyone else "was allowed to drink what they wanted". Things got so bad that the good ol' boy, we'll call him Steve, had to drive he and his wife back home (he had also brought them).
After this, our party was down to four. Ava was lamenting what had become of her life. Estranged son. Ruined credit. Stories of FBI investigations of her. Wild stories. It was depressing. And what to believe? Is she delusional? What had happened to this lovely, erudite lady? She was still as articulate as ever, but reduced to singing the blues. I pray for her often.
The entire thing was depressing, honestly. Recalling the soirees of the past, a group of active, fun loving souls. You want it to last forever, or at least a while longer. Not meant to be, I reckon. And I guess my patients are correct when they repeatedly tell me, "Old age ain't for sissies". I think you should pray for them too.