The policemen, rescue workers and municipal inspector standing around the entrance to apartment block 1073 in the Shikun Dalet neighborhood of Tiberias on Tuesday did not have much to do. A quick glance at the body of the elderly woman that was found in a third-floor apartment in the block made it immediately clear that her death was natural and not the result of suicide or assault.
Nellie Hodes, 75, died at home, apparently on Saturday. For three days, she lay just in front of her bathroom door. And just a few meters away, in the living room of the small apartment, lay her son, a severely disabled 51-year-old.
It is still not clear whether the son tried to call for help, or what he has felt since the time his mother, who had cared for him like a child since he was disabled, tripped and fell to her death.
Tuesday afternoon, the son's caregiver came to the apartment. She knocked on the locked door and said the son answered her: "Mother is dead."
The terrified caregiver approached a neighbor from the first floor, who then hurried to call the police.
The Tiberias fire and rescue squad came too, and they climbed a ladder and entered the apartment through the window. "We saw an old lady lying on the floor in a state of decomposition," fireman Ehud Zenad described the scene. "Her son was spread out on the floor, he didn't speak and looked weak. He seemed to be in shock and said for three days, he had not eaten or drunk. He looked out of touch and did not understand what was happening to him."
At the hospital, the son spoke little but devoured his food.
However, his mental condition remains unclear. Some of the neighbors described him as normal, while others said he had psychological problems, and possibly slight retardation. He may be sent to a psychiatric hospital for further treatment today.
"He arrived at the apartment seven years ago, limping and needing a cane," said one neighbor who asked to remain anonymous, like the rest of the neighbors - all of whom may have been embarrassed that they showed no interest in their fellow residents.
Two years ago, the mother joined her son in the apartment. Over the years, his condition worsened until he became paralyzed, and dependent on his mother.
"He was completely paralyzed, unable to move," said the neighbor who called the police, Ilan Zeitouni. "They were alone, barely got by, living on a National Insurance allowance. The story is very sad, the end is painful."
Unlike other similar cases, no curious bystanders crowded around the entrance. Hodes' death did not interest many people. It seems that her life did not attract much interest, either.
When one passerby same to see what was happening and asked, "what no one saw, no one took any interest?" the neighbors answered: "They are Russians" - as if no further explanation of the mother and son's anonymity were needed. Another neighbor explained: "Here we lock our doors and everyone is on their own."
"She looked like a good woman," said a neighbor from the next entry. "Well groomed, clean, always with a pretty hat. She took care of her son very well, but we had no relationship except for 'hello.'"
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