[caption id="attachment_1443" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="I felt like an intruder here."][/caption] The address was the one listed on my work order. My keys worked in the front door. And yet I couldn't help feeling like an intruder as I made my way up the stairs. Is this really a trashout? Is anybody home? [caption id="attachment_1444" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="The couch was set up for a long rest."][/caption] There was too much order, too much stuff. Home stuff. I'm used to garbage houses and crack houses. I have no problem in filth. This home was different. It felt cared for. It felt lived in. [caption id="attachment_1445" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="The bathroom was all set up for another day at work."][/caption] Pictures hung on the walls. Full sets of dishes waited for meals in the cupboards. Letters sat neatly stacked at a desk. The telephone was in its cradle, and the light blinked red, indicating a message. [caption id="attachment_1446" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Paying bills."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1447" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="I did not listen to the message."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1448" align="aligncenter" width="425" caption="In the laundry room."][/caption] When I got back to the office, I did some digging. The previous occupant, it seems, had passed away about a year ago. He was a lifelong resident of this mid-sized city, where he owned a painting business, raised a family, and remained active in the community. I don't know the cause of death, but I would assume that it was breathing-related, as the home had evidence of smoking; there also was an oxygen machine, and some medication to help relieve severe chest congestion. [caption id="attachment_1449" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="A ceramic puppy."][/caption] [caption id="attachment_1450" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="The bedroom."][/caption] In cases like this, I wonder where the rest of the family went (I know he had five children and several grandchildren). Did they come in and take what they wanted, leaving the rest behind? Have they all moved far away, and couldn't be bothered to return to their childhood home? I don't know. What I do know is that in a couple of days, this house will be empty, ready to go on the market and serve as a home to a new family. [caption id="attachment_1451" align="aligncenter" width="640" caption="Jackie Gleason."][/caption]

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