Old Wounds and Family Scars

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Arron says he still has trouble letting himself get close to his father. "Every day, I feel like I'm closer to becoming an orphan. I have a tendency to not get too close to people, because I'm afraid they'll leave me. So when I look at my father, I think, 'I'm not getting too close to you. You could be dead any day now.'"

The two men get along better, though, and have agreed to disagree. "We still get on each other's nerves," Arron says. "We were putting up a screen door, and I got so pissed at him because he tried to correct everything I did even though things were working fine. But now, instead of yelling at him, I just kind of laugh and get on with it."

Recently, Curt and Diane went to visit Arron down at the Biosphere, and his father could not have been more proud of him. "From a very early age, Arron was always the champion of the little guy on the playground," Curt says. "His first fight was over another kid getting bullied at school. He has always identified with people who are being taken advantage of."

At age 54, Curt has been out of the workforce for almost six years and hasn't had to apply for a job since he first worked for Hughes in 1969. He substitute teaches at some private schools in Denver and coaches youth soccer teams. Diane is a librarian. They have a modest lifestyle, but they're thankful that they have at least made it this far.

"Curt's pretty damned lucky," Diane says. "He thought it was going to work out. We tried to be real positive.

"You know, it's like I keep telling Arron, bad shit happens, but it doesn't happen forever."

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Sean Neumann