I found out today that the man who lived across the street from my parents has died. My brother and I referred to him as Hank Hill because he was so concerned with keeping his lawn perfectly manicured.
His real name was Denny; I assume he was a veteran because he very proudly flew a U.S. flag and a POW/MIA flag in his yard every single day of the year. The flags were always crisp and in good condition -- he no doubt bought new ones every couple of months.
Denny died of pancreatic cancer. He had only found out about it three weeks ago.
Jon and I never got to know him, but it is weird and depressing to think that he won't be there anymore. In the autumn, leaves will probably sit in his yard for more than two minutes. In the winter, the lines of snow probably won't run at right angles; an occasional patch of ice might be found on the driveway. That tired old black Labrador that quietly followed him everywhere and knew to never leave the plush green of the lawn is probably inconsolable. The late 80s Ford Bronco will collect rust.
I can't explain why I am so upset by the death of someone to whom I've probably said, "Hey. How's it goin'?" less than a handful of times. Perhaps it is the realisation that there are no constants. We get older; we suddenly slip away.