There have been hints in his writings over the last two or three years: comments about the 2004 presidential election being the last he would live to see; hoping someone would do or say some particular thing in his memory in ten years; how he had given up skiing, and playing the piano; most alarmingly, how his pants had fallen down at some function, and nothing he could do would keep them up around his apparently fleshless waist. Then there was the letting go of his trusty sailboat. And the appearance on Rush Limbaugh's radio program on the release of his autobiography, Miles Gone By, when he couldn't seem to stop coughing. And the end of his public speaking engagements. And in April of last year, the death of Pat, his beloved wife of 57 years. The signs were unmistakable and inescapable, even when I wished him many more happy birthdays a year and a half ago. Though he continued to turn out his columns, the loss or the jettisoning of one after another of his loves and occupations pointed to an end not long to be delayed.
And now the end has come. Ill with diabetes and emphysema, he died at home this morning, apparently in harness, working in his study. May he rest in peace.