Hey, I saw your dad the other day.

Oh yeah? Where’d ya see him, on one of his walks around the block?

Nah. Saw your folks and Mary Jo at Mr. Cipriano’s wake.

Oh he finally died? I knew he was in a bad way and all with the Alzheimer’s. Yeah, they go to all the wakes and funerals. It’s kinda their thing. They brought us up that way. You gotta show your respect. I wish I knew; I would have gone. Guess they figured I didn’t really know the family that well since they moved off the block when I was around 3 or 4.

Yeah, he got lung cancer. In a way it was a relief. It’s bad enough to have the cancer, but to not know where you are. . .

You go with your folks?

No, they came after your folks left.

That’s too bad. I figure your mom and my dad could swap war stories of their treatments.

Your dad looked pretty good. I mean other than he’s lost a lot of weight, you wouldn’t know.

How’s your mom doing?

She’s alright. She doesn’t have a lot of energy anymore. It sucks because she’s always been someone who’s so active. Now she’s always feeling tired.

Yeah, Dad too. I know the radiation treatments have side effects and I’m sure a lot of it is the cancer too. He gets wiped out and irritable pretty easy. When he’s had enough, he has to just get up and go.

They didn’t stay long. How many d’ he have?

I think it was ten. Ten radiation treatments and next week he starts some drip therapy. I’m not sure of the name.

My mom’s been lucky. She’s just taking some pills. 

Really, what? Alkeran? Lukeran? Wait, no those are for different cancers. I only remember them from the chemo I used to have to give our old cats. Seems like everyone on the block is getting one form or another.

I heard about Mr. DeLuca too. Or did he die already?

I don’t think so, but I heard he’s really sick. Lung cancer.

Yeah, they were asking when I was gonna quit these. Actually thought about it. My mom quit about 30 years ago. She still got it anyway. 

It’s weird. I still refer to the houses on the block by the names of the people that used to live there even though some of the new people have been there since we were kids. The old block is now dying off. Everything hits at once.

I have a feeling these next ten years or so are going to kinda suck.

Yeah, I still think of us as being young. Then I look in the mirror and reality hits.

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Tom Long

Tom Long is one-third of the seldom heard Chicago band The Ethyl Mermen. The name Tom Long can be found in the dictionary, Baseball Encyclopedia and a pub in Ireland. Tom Long is not affiliated with any other Tom Long; he won the rights to use his own name after prevailing in a three-way game of Jan-ken-pon by choosing "dynamite!" No Toms were harmed in the making of this blog.

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