Duke and Theresa were two of the first retired estadounidenses we met in Merida. Tom and Debi were the other couple who met us for supper at La Poderosa, a sidewalk supper place in the San Sebastian neighborhood. It was, I think, in 2008.
A day or two later we went to Duke and Theresa’s home. Duke made Cuban coffee (Theresa is Cuban-American), and Theresa served a date cake/pie that she had bought at a Lebanese store. There are many Lebanese immigrants who came here starting in the early 1900’s.
They asked why we were interested in retiring here in Merida, Duke asking why I would not return to Brazil, where I had grown up. He listened patiently to our answers. He was and is a thoughtful, soft-spoken man. He listened to our questions and answered them. At the end of the talk, I asked him if there were any questions we were not asking because we did not know enough to ask them. He told me that he thought we would do all right here.
We moved down in January, 2014. They have been guests in our home and we have been guests in theirs. Theresa taught me how to cook the classic Cuban recipe, ropa vieja, at their house one night. Neither is much of a drinker, but not too long ago Duke told me he had been tasting scotch. I had planned to invite them over for dinner and planned to buy a much better scotch than I usually would, a nice single malt for Duke to taste.
I think the time for that is past. Duke is in the hospital It appears all too likely that he will not come out alive. Goddammit I do not like stuff that makes me cry. The life of a retired person in Merida is a good life – but it is life and life includes stories like Duke and Theresa’s.
Theresa recently went through a bout of breast cancer. So far her surgery and treatment has good results. One result, though, of that and of Duke’s long illness and hospital stay is that it has drained their finances. While this post is primarily a remembrance of Duke and not a plea for funds, if you want to donate, here is a link you can go to. Either way, I will remember Duke as a good and gentle man. The world would be a better place with more like him