He was in his 50s when he died. We put all of his earthly possessions into three banana boxes and placed them into the trunk of our '63 Chevy station wagon. The key to the single (twin bed) hotel room was returned to the front desk clerk. Ironically, this was the same job he once held before alcohol got him too pickled to keep his balance for longer than half an hour. They said it was too hard for him to stand up. By the time I met Uncle Ivan he had probably been drinking (heavily) for the previous four decades. There was a certain odor about him that smelled of piss vinegar and Old Spice. I remember the whiskers on his chin used to tickle my forehead when he bent down to kiss the top of my head.
"They think it was cirrhosis of the liver," his stringy-haired girlfriend said. No autopsy was performed. Everyone knew Ivan was an alcoholic, even the kids in the family. It's almost as if his fate had been sealed in the veiled comments made by his siblings.
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