The old lobster fisherman lived alone after his wife passed away.
He had a reputation in the small town of South Harpswell, Maine, of being a hero
Saving a child from drowning during a riptide, putting out a house fire single handedly, with buckets of water, stuff like that, well into his seventies.
He taught himself to play the violin and would play for hours in the dark, after sunset, long after the lights should have been turned on. It was as if he was trying to conjure up the daughter he never had, the winds and storms of the sea
, the freedom of fishing long days until his skin was dark and toughened, his wife's laughter, Sundays at church, all he had lost to time.
He had an entire room upstairs
filled with grocery bags of food in cans, bags of hardened sugar and stale flour, well before TV shows about hoarders.
Any hot water he needed was boiled in a tea kettle.
He used electricity as if it was rationed, preferring gasoline lanterns and what he called torches.
He used words in the same sparse way, saving what needed to be said
for when he played his violin,
sitting on a hard rocking chair in the kitchen, tears falling silently instead of sentences.
He re-used tea bags, made the best lobster chowder I've ever had, and ended the day with biscuits dipped in a saucer of rum.
His only extravagance
was a closet filled with extra raincoats that he called slickers.
Years later, I heard he died alone, curled up underneath his neatly made bed,
his violin half in the purple velvet lined case, half held in one hand,
as if he wanted to play music one last time