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    Life is short. Words linger.





    ORBBIE Winner


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    This is a true story that took place on October 23, 2001. It was a Tuesday afternoon

    My parents’ house is on a small street just north of Orlando. It has about a dozen homes on the south side. On the north side, and directly across the street, is a small lake. That side is owned by one family, Bill being the strong patriarch. There are two houses on his property, both owned by his family.

    Sadly, he came down with a very rare form of leukemia; so rare, in fact, that he couldn’t be treated by any of the Orlando hospitals. He opted to go to Houston, where he spent months at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. It was his only choice. It was his only chance.

    Bill was a strong kind of guy. By that, I mean he had character and integrity. He was a hard worker and everyone seemed to like and respect him. He and his wife had been known to throw some great parties, so I would hear, and he was a big banker of some kind. All I really did know about him was that he had leukemia and things didn’t seem to be working out in his favor. Unfortunately, no procedure helped and, in the end, he was sent home to live out his remaining days with his loving wife and family, under his doctor’s care in order to keep him as comfortable as possible. Despite not really knowing him all that well, I made it a point to ask about him every time I visited or called my parents.

    One afternoon, I decided to stop by the old homestead. It was my nature to make sure my mother was doing okay, especially when she was alone. Except for the pets. Driving by Bill’s house, I saw him standing there, just off the road. I waved, but he didn’t respond. He didn’t even notice me, as a matter of fact, and it seemed like he was staring out into an empty void. His face was pale and emotionless. I thought, well, he’s not in the best of health right now, anyway. Intently, I watched as I drove by, thinking that this would most likely be the last time I’d see him because something just appeared to be different. To this day, I still can’t put my finger on it. It’s as if he was somewhere else. I thought to myself that he must be nearing the end of his journey and was too weak to acknowledge me. That must be it. I knew that his health had been declining, but didn’t really know what kind of shape he was in. Until this day.

    I pulled into my parents’ place, got out, and went inside. The first thing I said to my mother after greeting her was that I had just seen Bill standing in his driveway. I waved and he didn’t even notice me. Poor Bill.

    “That’s impossible,” she responded.

    “Why? I mean, he didn’t look good, but there he was.”

    “No, David, you couldn’t have seen him. He passed away two days ago. In the hospital.”

    “You’re kidding. No way!” I knew I saw him and had to quickly go back outside to take another look.

    Bill was gone.

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