Who Will Show Up?

13 Apr

I heard a story on the news that a man had died ten years ago, and due to automatic payments, was only now discovered when the money ran out. I went online and couldn’t find the story. The reason is because this story is NOT that uncommon.

Take this story from 2014 – in Pontiac, Michigan, one day in 2007, a 49-year-old woman named Pia Farrenkopf just disappeared. This was not uncommon for her–she was known to travel a lot. Her bank was set up to autopay her bills. No one thought anything of it. After they realized no one was mowing her grass, someone called the cops. They knocked at the door, police didn’t see anything amiss, so they went away. The grass continued to grow–neighbors took it upon themselves to mow the lawn for her.

In a way, that’s kind of heartening. Eventually, the money ran out in her bank account, and the bank foreclosed on the property. Even then, apparently, no one bothered to clean out the house; but then again, houses were being foreclosed all the time, so maybe there was a delay. Then on inspection, a hole in the roof was noticed, and only then did someone look into the garage. The body of Pia was discovered in the back seat, the keys in the ignition.

Pia kept to herself, she disappeared for weeks at a time (presumably to go back to Germany), and the only family she had (her sister), Pia was estranged from. Meanwhle, her mummified body was sitting in the back of her car in the garage.

Or take this story from 2019–a elderly man was discovered dead in an apartment after 11 years. Again, the rent for this Nantes, France flat was being paid automatically. But because no one bothered to check, they had to figure out when he died because of the expired food marks in the fridge.

And that’s all this news story has on it–they have to fill the rest of the story about an elderly woman in Spain who had been dead for four years before someone noticed. The clue… her laundry that was hung out to dry hadn’t changed. Now since we don’t have a lot of detail here, I’m going to assume that the laundry was sitting on a rack inside the house. But how sad would it be if it was outside the house… people tend to have the same clothes, so would it be that unusual? It was only when neighbors noticed the same clothes after four years that they decided to look inside the window and see the legs sticking out from behind some furniture on the ground.

It’s easy to say, “Well, this is elderly people, and since they don’t get out as often as they should, so it’s easy to miss them.” But this can happen to anyone–the difference seems to be “how long can you stopping pay your bills before someone notices?” When you isolate yourself from everyone, no one’s going to notice if you’re not there… and that’s incredibly sad.

So what I am trying to say? Leave your house every so often. Get out. Talk to people you normally wouldn’t talk to. There’s lot of opportunities for this–attend religious services, workout, go to the bar, join a club… whatever! The pandemic is ending–you’re out of excuses. It’s so easy to be isolated in the modern era; don’t be that way. Maybe go read one of my my books in the park? However, if money is tight, and a $1.99 is too much go ahead and download one of my stories for free. But get out of the house–I mean it.

One Response to “Who Will Show Up?”

  1. rebecca s revels April 13, 2021 at 6:58 pm #

    My husband’s biggest fear was that he would die out there on the road in that big truck he drove and no one would know. He did pass away out there in his truck, but they found him within the hour. That’s different I know, but you’re right. It is important that we get outside, speak to our neighbors, get to know others who would miss you if you disappeared.

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