Yesterday, our family attended a very casual memorial to an old neighbor who lost his 12 yr battle with cancer recently. Although he had cancer for so long, he was quite healthy, and his deterioration was quick in the end.
Henry wasn't only a wonderful neighbor who would dog and cat sit when we'd go to australia, praise any food i'd cook him and snow blow the whole block, he had wonderful stories of the neighborhood. His house was built by his grandfather and was one of the first in the area. He'd tell us stories of how our neighborhood was formed. He remembers going cow-tipping in the nearby farm, which is now bracket park. He was also a bit of a car junkie and had 2 corvettes he'd tinker with. The very same corvette was used to race down lake street when he was an adolescent. He had a great story of getting chased by the police down an alley. He took a quick turn into a stranger's garage and closed the door just in time for the police man to rumble by. Afraid of starting his loud engine, he sat in his corvette at 3am waiting. Two hours later, he walked his car back home.
He knew our house throughout the years. He was able to explain why some floor boards were put together strangely when we did some remodeling. As a child, he'd come over to our house and lie over a large grate over the furnace. Since that time, someone had repaired the hardwoods (poorly). As a teenager, he also remembered watching young college women who were renting our house at the time, playing topless fooseball in the dining room; His house's kitchen window had a straight shot view.
When i became a nurse at the hospital he was born in, he became my biggest fan. When he'd go to the hospital to get chemo, he'd ask all the nurses if they knew me. Some of them did, and would later tell me that Henry assured them i was keeping a close eye on him. When i learned of this, with much insistance, he did let me change his dressings here and there, but moreover, he let me convince him to get a home health nurse. In the end, he could no longer tolerate the food i'd bring him (and wouldn't admit it could possibly be my cooking!).
He died as he wished: in his home. I'm going to miss him.