Cecil Wayne Blank

Last year i discovered Openhouse and started getting their help in finding housing. Thanks to their understanding of the system and the alerts they send me, i managed to get myself onto a waiting list very quickly, and realizing that i needed to give back, i volunteered for their Friendly Visitor program in which shut in or otherwise isolated gay seniors get some human contact with the outside world in the form of a periodic gay visitor.

It took quite a while for the program manager to match me up, but finally just before last Thanksgiving she found a man with whom she thought i’d be compatible and took me to his apartment for an introduction. We hit it off immediately.

He’s 86 and has started to use a cane, but he can walk at least as well as i can. He’s getting forgetful, but frankly his mind doesn’t seem all that much worse than mine, as he’s a voracious reader. Mostly history rather than fiction, but still, there’s plenty of overlap and we can talk about books we’ve both read. He doesn’t have the energy to do much gardening anymore, but he’s quite knowledgeable about horticulture. Here’s a potted begonia on his back steps.





Went back for a second visit during which we talked about history and music and discovered that we’re both apostate Methodists. Turns out he’s a birder, and we spoke of going out to Stern Grove down the street and giving me introductory lessons.

For the next visit, i introduced him to Riverside Seafood Restaurant at Vicente and 23rd Avenue. Although it’s in his neighborhood, somehow he’d never eaten here, and it was an enormous pleasure to watch a man who likes his dim sum discover a new place. Few pleasures are greater than good food in good company.

And then i called a couple of times and he didn’t respond to my message on his machine, and out of the blue the idea hit me that he was in the hospital. He was. I went. He’d fallen on the street, had a horrible bruise on his forehead, and seemed a little disoriented. Then he was discharged to a convalescent home way out in the avenues, and when i saw him there he was still a little disoriented but he was crystal clear that he didn’t like the place.

Somehow he managed to get himself sent back to his apartment, but before i could visit him there he was back in the hospital. He was pushing his tray away at meals, but i managed to seduce him with mandarins from Olsen. He ignored them while i was there but later tasted one out of boredom and on my next visit told me he was astonished at how good they were. I reminded him that he was in the presence of a major foodie and produce procurer.

And then the bad news started. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer so advanced that nothing could be done and was discharged to a hospice. I kept calling in hopes that he’d be up for a visitor, but not quite yet, not yet.

And then this morning he went and died on me.

Rest in peace, Wayne.

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