Another one of my neighbors died this week, a guy we used to refer to as "Gay Republican Mike", to differentiate him from the other Mikes we know. Despite his gruff appearance, he really was a nice guy once you got to know him. I knew him for twenty six years, been to parties at his home, and had him over to our house. It's sad to hear that he is now gone.
A lot of my old neighbors have passed on and I think of them every time I walk by their homes. I have many memories of walking my dogs around the block and waving to Helen, the Austrian lady who reminded me of my grandmother. And then there was another neighbor I would stop and chat with, Mrs. Johnson who always had a dog biscuit for my dogs. There was Nonny across the street who was quite nervous around my big dogs, but loved my schnauzers. And Fred, the old guy across the street who lost it all and became homeless, only to die when a car ran him over recently. All of these people are gone now. Familiar faces that always stopped to talk, people who my dogs recognized from a block away.
I never thought of death much. Even when I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma and went through twelve weeks of chemo, I didn't think of death. Only that I was going to beat it. Unfortunately, even when you try to avoid thinking about dying, death comes looking for you, reminding you of the inevitable. It's another reason I want to move back to Chicago. When I hit sixty five years old I started doing the math, and I decided that when I die, I want to do it in Chicago. I don't want to drop dead here in Florida, God's waiting room. So all my brothers and sisters, nephews and nieces, and all of their children can thank me now while I am still alive, for not making you come to Florida for a funeral.