It has been longer than two weeks now that a very long time friend went into the acute care hospital. He still is not out. Thankfully, he had the wherewithal to give the e-mail addresses of friends to his brother, who has been keeping us updated.
I met Rick when I was fourteen. There are things in life that I especially appreciate because he exposed me to them. My love of architecture stems from his showing me photos of ancient Roman and Greek ruins while explaining the styles. I would never had heard of or learned to love the music of Edith Piaf if it were not for him. Musically, I also fell in love with Ed Ames‘ crooning those songs of a romantic. Rick taught me the difference between cameos and intaglios, while at the same time introducing me to Florentine needlepoint or bargello as it sometimes called, which years later, contributed to my Associate of Arts degree in Fine Arts. Because of him, I found that the combination of martinis and liver pate make me deathly ill. Most importantly, I learned without his teaching me that if I am honest about who I am with everyone, no one can blackmail me, as he was in his youth.
When I was still living in NJ, our weekly routine was to pick Rick up and go grocery shopping. It was a ritual, but there were other diversions we shared: gay activist meetings, dinner parties, traveling locally. I provided the transport, he the company.
When I moved to CA, I would call him on occasion, but then in his elder years, he bought a computer. This literally opened a new world to him as he now has friends in Florida, the west, and South Africa. I am sure there are even more that I am not aware of.
When he was admitted to the hospital this last time, he had just returned from a grocery shopping trip provided by his senior housing apartment. He felt ill and they called 911. The diagnosis this time is lung cancer. Rick has had cancer in the past, has an colostomy, but has not refrained from smoking all of these years. In December last, he turned 84 years old. From this hospitalization, it is looking very unlikely he will return home again. The doctors are saying he will need skilled nursing care. Losing his independence will be the end of him. Without his privacy, what he values more than anything in the world, he will wither away.
I have had the pleasure and the honor to have had Rick in my life for over forty years. Yet, I selfishly want more for him as well as for me. I tried deciding which Ed Ames song would make a fitting tribute. Many have some lyrics that are appropriate, but others that may have been at one time, but no longer are. So, I have chosen this one.