Saturday, August 8, 2020

Tony by Lotus Zhang


Tony by Lotus Zhang

(original post:

On our way home from market this morning, I rolled my cart and passed a woman with her dog. My husband walked after me, but he stopped and exchanged a few words with her. I immediately realized that she was walking Tony’s dog.

When my husband caught up with me, I asked him how is Tony. He lowered his voice and said:”Tony is dead.” I was shocked.


We have lived in this neighborhood for about 3years, Tony is one of our few acquaintances. We met him on the street, started from saying “Good morning” to each other then gradually sometimes we had longer conversations, such as meatball recipe, Yankee, the local news of our neighborhood. He was a man in his seventies, of medium height, a little fat, always wore a woven fisherman hat and a brown leather jacket, with a cane in his hand. He told us his family was from Sicily, but he was born in Brooklyn and spoke with a very thick Brooklyn accent. He must have been retired because we could see him wandering on the streets very often; And he lived alone, with a little dog.


He always reminded me of the old-fashioned New Yorkers, open minded, easy to make friends, and very picky on certain types of things. Sometimes when he saw me from another side of the street, he would take off his hat and call “Hi” to me. He told my husband that he always thought I was from Singapore. Every time after an important Yankees game, if my husband happened to meet him on the street, he would chat with my husband for a very long time by standing on the street and completely ignored that we might be in a hurry to go.  


I still can remember when we saw him the last time: It was in March before the shutdown of NewYork city by Covid-19. We met one early morning on the street; he looked very weak. He stopped by and told us that he didn’t feel very well and he considered he must have caught cold. After hearing this, my husband bounced back immediately. He told him to find a doctor without hesitation then took my hand and hurried away. I looked back once, Tony was still standing there and looking at us in a confused way. I felt very guilty for running away from him, and we even didn’t say goodbye.


Since then, I have always expected to meet him again. I wanted to apologize for our inappropriate behavior. Every time when I passed his apartment building, I looked into the hall and wished to see him. A few times we recognized his little dog was walked by a woman (perhaps a dog walker) on the street, but he had never shown up again. Until one day, we thought maybe we could ask that woman about him.


After the outbreak of coronavirus, people started to talk about new normal. I really never think there will be any difference to my husband and me. Our life is simple, everyday just work, cook, and shop occasionally. We have a lot of plans for the future, and we think everything will be back the same as before, sooner or later. But now we know something will never be as it was: Tony has gone forever. There’s no more old man to chat with us on the street, and in his current world maybe he isn’t that lonely. How many people in our lives have disappeared or will disappear without bidding a farewell, just like Tony, like the fallen leaves swept away by the wind.


Life is delicate, we eagerly explore for the security of eternity but nobody ever can find it. So how to move forward? I guess the only thing we can do is embrace the world, accept the way it is, each time let’s love and cry as hard as possible. The moment won’t last, but our emotion can.


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