The first person I lost to AIDS

world aids day 2015 tree“Frank” was tall, virile and had a body covered in sinew and muscle. Years of working on the docks, then later in the woods, and for a third act swinging a carpenter’s hammer in Amador and Calaveras Counties.

We were having so much fun infiltrating the hills, us “415’ers”. They loved and hated the fact we’d cashed in our chips and joined them in the land of wood stoves, wells and septic tanks. We partied like it was 1999.

My female friends from the Bay Area, aka the “Gay Area”, visited on weekends whenever they could. We’d hit the saloon and show the women how to dress on a Saturday night, and teach the men how how to play pool and act around sophisticated and bold and brazen city grrls.

Frank caught Annette’s eye as soon as he strolled into the bar, his head bent down to avoid the wood beams in the low ceiling over a terribly slanted floor. His loud and raucous laughter were the only thing that could compete with his presence.

My husband introduced the two, and that was it. I didn’t see her for weeks. She was very close to moving in and staying as his partner, too. But, alas, the love haze cleared and they both got bored and began to annoy one another. Annette went back to the City, and we never thought about it much.

That is until we heard Frank had Lyme Disease, then AIDS, then died. Nobody talked about it, but we all worried about her.

The good news is, she never contracted either disease and is aging with a healthy vigor all her own. And, it’s a good thing as she cares for an ailing patient with little help from anyone besides her current partner, “Joe”.

My money is now on Annette and Joe to make the distance. I can see them at age 100 even, passing away quietly in their sleep within days of one another. I just wish I could be there to see it and read this at the wake. She’d like that, I’m sure.

That’s my AIDS story. Well, one. What’s yours?

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