My aunt and uncle live in Baltimore. They've always lived there. In fact, I think they built Baltimore around them they've been there so long.
They met in Europe after WWII. He was backpacking around with some buddies after he was discharged and she was travelling with her sister.
She lived in New York and he in Baltimore. After they got back home, she moved to Baltimore to be a teacher and he worked as a salesman.
Fast forward a few decades and I arrive in Baltimore as a college freshman. They looked after me while I was there. I had a home cooked meal from time to time, a place to do laundry and a quiet place to study during finals. I kept in touch with them after that and as they got older I was the one looking after them.
They've moved into a nursing home now and he's been declining for a while. He's become very thin and frail.
Last week I called to check on them and see how they're doing. My aunt answered and she was atypically curt. She opened with "I can't talk right now". I was concerned. Normally if she can't talk she'll banter for a bit and then say she has company or was on her way out the door or whatever. Not this time. I said that was fine and asked her to call me back when she was available.
A few days later she called back. Seems my uncle had been to see the doctor as "he hasn't been feeling well lately" and has been "losing weight". I'm telling you the guy doesn't have any more weight to lose. He's thin as it is.
So, I think he's dying and doesn't want anyone to know. The way he's wasting away I fear it's cancer. When you're 90 and you have cancer I don't imagine there's much you can do but make him as comfortable as possible.
I just wish they would be straight with me. He's entitled to keep it to himself but I hate the idea that he's dying and I'm not going to find out until it's over. I don't have the ability to see him as often as I like which makes it that much worse.
He's a remarkable guy. He's the one I've told you about before. He was a Marine in WWII and Korea. He was in Guadalcanal, one of the bloodiest fights in the Pacific theater. He has a wonderful sense of humor and irreverence which is the absolute opposite of my straight laced prim and proper aunt. I think that's one of the reasons she was drawn to him. He was sharp witted and something of a rogue as a young man.
I once asked him directly about Guadalcanal and he merely said it was "pretty bad". He then turned the conversation to Parris Island which he would speak about at length. The salty hard assed DI's who tormented them mercilessly to get them in fighting form. He would also talk about his adventures in Europe after the war. War, however, remains off limits.
He's not even gone and I miss him already.