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Paul

If yesterday was a wrathful day, today was most definitely a melancholy sort of day.

 

There was a man named Paul who for years would drive himself to the mall and walk for exercise every afternoon. He lived on his own in Belmont, he was totally independent, and if I remember correctly, he was either 93 or 95 years old (threes and fives look the same in my brain sometimes). I found out this evening that Paul had died on October 5. His cancer from a few years ago had come back a couple months ago, and his health rapidly declined.  

 

The last time I saw him was sometime in late September, and he was using a walker instead of his usual cane. I’d offered him a chair to sit while he visited with us, but he had said no, because he was afraid he wouldn’t be able to stand up again. He looked like hell, and he smelled like death. I felt guilty thinking, It’s only a matter of days…. But it was true. He was so frail, and he looked so tired that day. He may have been right. He might not have been able to get back up from the chair I’d offered to him.

 

I’ve been working at this job for a little over a year, and I’d met Paul on my very first day. At first, I’d thought he was a customer and was very formal with him. But then as the days went by, I realized he was actually a friend. Maybe he even knew he was dying then.

 

We’d greet him: “Hello, Paul! How are you?”

 

And he’d always respond, “Terrible!” with a smile on his face.

 

It’s sad to think that won’t happen anymore.

 

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