From the story, When Murray Met Helen
It was only in the last year of his life that Murray began to hint, to Helen, that there’d been this other life.
For a decade and a half she’d only known him as her grandfatherly next door neighbor, a lanky man with wispy white hair. He wore a canvas, bucket hat in summer and, in winter, he favored an old Green Bay Packers knit cap that he often wore with a purple Northwestern jacket.
Upon first impression, he struck her as a tad restless, but friendly and always eager to offer advice about how and when to prune her trees, plant her bulbs, and blow out her sprinklers. He seemed to have two of every crucial tool you’d need to drill through metal, saw through wood, and unplug drains, and within five years he’d insisted upon permanently lending her his copies of the most useful ones. For Christmas one year, as a light-hearted way to convey her thanks, she gave him a blue t-shirt scripted with his own quote, “You could pay someone to do that, but you really don’t have to.”
He blushed and looked confused when she presented it to him. It took her a good five minutes of embarrassed laughter and persuasion to explain it didn’t have anything to do with sex.
She didn’t know about his service during the war until he seemed sharp with her one day about her garbage can blocking his sidewalk. Minutes later, he was at her door, offering garden strawberries and apologizing for his tone; then explaining that his last compatriot from the battles on Okinawa had died in Milwaukee the night before. What an interesting turning point that turned out to be, this misunderstanding about a stupid trash can.