Monday, November 11, 2013
He had been working on a house, he kind of entered into the deal before he really knew he was sick but he suspected something. Anyway, he was working on it, old hippie artistry combined with old hippie craft, and pretty soon they had something going. Some kids from UK heard about it, made a little half-hour film of this house that his wife got shown at the UK film department. We brought some champagne, sat in the lobby and he sat really frail but dandy in his white suit and panama hat. Long red beard and hair tied back, same as my first memory of him, riding along beside him in his old Ford pick-up, happy and proud and five years old, bare feet pressed against the windshield, translucent footprints against the glare. All of his friends came along to the show. I came along, some of my students showed up. They put an article in the Lexington papers, which appeared a couple of days later, and reading it that's how I knew what happened next, read about it over a plate of scrambled eggs.
When she drove him back from the hospital the last time he threw up a couple of times in the car, into one of those almost-translucent blue hospital bags they give you. She had brought along the bags, this wasn't anything unexpected and there was no shame in it. No apologies. He was too weak to really hold the edges of the thing with any certainty, the knuckles stood out against his tanned freckled hands. They'd been together for 54 years, and he insisted on wearing the Panama hat. When they pulled up to the house Bob Weir was parked in front of it, swear to God. Bob Weir behind the wheel of an old Honda Civic. She explained everything, he came in and they played for a little while. Bob slowed down but he kept up. Then he went upstairs to bed, and that's where he died.