Cirrhosis

Cirrhosis: (n) a chronic disease of the liver

I do not remember his real name, but I know it wasn’t Hank. So for the sake of the story and his anonymity, we shall call him Hank.

Hank was married to Barbara.

Barbara owned an antique shop which was really just an extension of her home in the basement. She was a nice woman. Of course, when
you’re a kid, adults tend to blur.

But I remember that once every two years or so, Barbara came to our house and spent a few days with us because “Hank was on a binge.”

Now, I did not know what a binge was. When I asked about it the first time, I received a frown, so didn’t feel it was a good idea to pursue.

But hanging out behind doors and listening to conversations, what I gathered was this: sometimes Hank decided to just go down to the town tavern and drink until he got “good and mean” and for some reason, blamed Barbara for all the problems in his life and started hitting her.

Eventually he would pass out, wake the next morning–apologetic–but still head off to the tavern again. Apparently this process was repeated for a week every couple of years, until Barbara would finally call the sheriff and have Hank put in jail until he could dry out, come home and act normal for a while.

The interesting thing was, in the process of Hank going in and out of rehabilitation, he developed liver disease.

Cirrhosis. It’s what happens when you choose to pickle your internal organs instead of your beets.

So at the age of fifty-two (which I thought was ancient) Hank died.

Barbara was a mess; as they say in the Midwest, “fit to be tied.”

She sold her business, left town and was never heard from again. I remember the last thing she said to my mother: “I just don’t understand why God took Hank.”

Fascinating.

You see, God didn’t understand why Hank took himself.

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