Thursday, February 08, 2007

Where 'friendly' is just a word

Larry Euglon was forgotten before he died. That's merely sad.

What's especially melancholy is that he died in his bed in his nicely kept Beaumont, Texas, home (pictured) as long as 18 months ago -- maybe during Hurricane Rita in September 2005 -- and nobody missed him until his skeleton was found on Tuesday.

Authorities report that 51-year-old Euglon had a breakfast table and a dinner table set with "nice china, wine glasses and table mats." The couches in his neatly tended living room appeared to have been placed in a way "for talking." He originally moved to the neighborhood with his mother in the early 1980s, but his mother later moved into the nursing home where she died in February 2006.

When Euglon didn't show up for her funeral, nobody called or visited. They just grumbled about it. Family members live here, but nobody ever checked on him. He might have been a loner, but he had family. Larry Euglon simply wasn't missed.

The county had red-tagged his home for non-payment of taxes. Mail was piling up somewhere. Electric, phone and cable bills presumably went unpaid by the slowly decaying body on Larry Euglon's bed. And the detritus of a long-ago hurricane remained untouched in the yard of the otherwise well-kept house for almost six seasons. But nobody apparently ever got past picking up the phone or ringing the doorbell. Nobody cared that much.

The South in general and Texas in particular likes to tout its friendliness, as if it were a tourist attraction. Well, in many ways, it's like a lot of tourist attractions: Not as genuine up close. When it came right down to it, Larry Euglon didn't have anyone friendly enough to see if he was safe and well. When it came down to it, nobody cared. Shame on us and our fake "friendliness."

If you died tonight in your sleep, would anyone miss you enough to look for you?

4 comments:

Jana said...

Geez, that is so sad!! But not only in Beaumont, I'm sorry to say. A client of mine was housebound for 2 weeks due to weather and ice so didn't get to her mailbox across the street. When I cleaned out the substantial amount of mail there, I asked her why the mailman hadn't thought to check on her, she said they never do. An entire mobile home park full of people and perhaps the one that has first-hand knowledge of whether a person is OK or not, doesn't care enough to check. Sad. This lady has family, and me, and hopefully someone will think to check on her if she's missing for 18 months. As for me, well, thankfully I have family here in the house and I'm hoping that they'd wonder if I didn't get up. However, another woman friend of mine was dead in her room for a week before her roommate called her son to tell him she hadn't been out of her room in a week...Yup, friendly.

SingingSkies said...

When I first read the story in the paper, I was dumbfounded and saddened. A part of me understands the neighbors assuming that he never came back. Sadly, I might have done the same thing under the circumstances.

It makes me wonder if we've missed others and what we might do to ensure that something similar doesn't happen should another similar catastrophe occur in the future.

To speak to the larger issue of "invisible people" in our society, I'm afraid the numbers are probably pretty large. "Eleanor Rigby" comes to mind. *sigh* It's hard to say what might make it easier to be friendly with those whose inclination is to maintain their distance.

Her Horribleness left us with some extraordinary circumstances. Something tells me that if she hadn't roared through, Euglon's neighbors would have done more than wonder from a distance when it became obvious that things were not normal at his home.

Such a sad situation all around. Here's hoping we learn from this and live more completely the friendliness we claim.

Anonymous said...

i searched for larry euglon and your page came up. i lived in the house to the left of the picture. we often drove by to visit the house and wondered why he never cleaned up his yard. we figured he evacuated and never came back (like the tenants at my old house). we were friendly with him and it is a shame really. we would like to pay our respects and go to his funeral, if he has one. what happens in this case? but anyways, we were probably the closest to friends he had. we were neighbors for 11 years. poor guy.

Ron Franscell said...

We're looking for the people closest to Larry Euglon to help us with a profile of a man who, at his end, had nobody close enough to check on him.

Would you contact me at 409-838-2809 or rfranscell@hearstnp.com?