Today marked the end of a nearly twenty-year relationship with my neighbor, Melvin Plumer. Mel and his wife Mary lived across the street from us in Osterville for many years. Once he and Mary went into assisted living and clearly needed help, another neighbor, Sarah, and I signed on to be their “friends and family plan.” Even those without cell phones, maybe especially those without cell phones, need a network.
Mary died in 2010, and Mel passed away this year, just a few months short of his 100th birthday. You won’t read about Melvin E. Plumer (“One m and no b,” as Mary used to say) in the history books. He didn’t have an obituary in the paper because there wasn’t really anyone who might need notification. So this blog post will be probably be the only public mention of his passing.
Mel loved baseball, and once tried out for the Boston Braves. He was a talented illustrator, but didn’t get much support for those abilities in his youth and went on to spend his adult life working in shipping and receiving departments in the Boston area. He and Mary never owned a car, preferring to take the bus or walk even after they moved to Cape Cod.
Melvin Plumer had a great sense of humor and his eyes sparkled when he found something funny. He idolized his older brothers and treasured the memory of being a youngest son whose greatest pleasure was to sit at the table drawing and talking with his mother as she bustled around the kitchen. He was an unassuming man who took great joy in simple things.
What impressed me about Melvin was that he was completely happy with his life. He didn’t covet a larger house, the latest gadgets, greater wealth or public recognition. He didn’t seem to worry about abilities he lacked or places he hadn’t gone. “I don’t kick,” he’d say to indicate that he wasn’t a complainer. But to me, this was a statement that he was totally content with things just as they were in the present moment. A very Zen attitude, even though Mel would’ve had no idea what I was talking about if I’d mentioned that to him.
Sometimes we’re blessed with opportunities to plant and harvest in areas we never intended garden. Sarah and I laid Melvin to rest in Somersworth, NH today and we both felt like we’d ingathered more than we’d sown.