When I first laid eyes on Frank, he was head down, on his hands and knees in the muddy grass. An adorable hound dog puppy bounded around him. He appeared to be looking for something. Thinking nothing of it, I prepared to jog past but as I approached, he called out to me.
Frank had slipped on the mud when the pup pulled him in an unforeseen direction. He’d fallen and was unable to get up.
Frank and his wife Julie have lived just on the outskirts of Casa Grande High (CGH) for over 40 years. He, his son and his grandson graduated from CGH and his grand daughter is on her way. When he finds out where I went to high school, he asks pointedly, “then what are you doing here?”
I don’t take offense because I understand well the historical rivalry between Petaluma High and Casa Grande. I grew up on the West side, and now I live on the East. One town, two high schools, no doubt a Classic American story. How could I betray my district?! Rather easily in fact, I never gave a shit.
I simply state that I like it here, as I grab hold of Frank’s arms to help him get up. I maintain a somewhat reserved distance as he is a stranger. I lift, hard, only to find he really can’t help and to no avail as he goes back down. He says he weighs 220, oh, no, 210 now, and he’s too heavy for me to lift up. We negotiate that maybe, if he could make it to the fence, he could use it as a hand hold while I lift him. Frank then says, that he has leukemia, “…it’s a blood disease. My fuckin’ arms are dead, there’s no strength left.”
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