Alive and Kicking

He had informed me on-line he was not long for this world but when I saw him for the first time in thirty years I thought surely he had lied. The only evidence he'd spoken the truth was the hospital bed in the dining room.

            Within an hour, he allowed me to know him much more than I had before, when he was my professor. As he conversed, his hands decorated the air.   He littered the living room with witty tales, tossed sparkling anecdotes into my lap along with the names of top-notch colleges, world leaders, and movie stars. He spoke also of the things of war.
            You’re not who I thought you were, I told myself. I imagined you a mouse of a man, tottering in dotage, but here you are fascinating and alive, not a dry, curled leaf but a slim, straight tree with laden branches.
            When I finally stood to go, I offered him a gift of food even as I wondered if he could still eat.
            “It will be my supper,” he said, his hands warm on mine. “Thank you.”
            On my way out, I noticed the oxygen tanks lined up against the wall. I turned in the doorway. 
             “May I come again?”
            His smile and eyes burned bright. “Please do. It would be my good pleasure.”


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