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Signs - and - Wonders

By Ned Oldham | Posted 2/13/2007 5:35:00 PM

Paul Darmafall is not doing so well. Coming up on 77 years old, he has lost weight, keeps to his room, sleeps a lot. He is suffering from congestive heart failure.

He had his first serious bout with the condition in November, says his wife, Bonnie Darmafall. A short, lively woman who turns 80 in August, she speaks with an accent that sounds like the missing link between Appalachian and Baltimorean: "We don't know yet for sure if he has cancer--he had a biopsy. He's on a lot of medication."

His family's assertions that illness has wasted his body notwithstanding, Paul Darmafall looks large for the living room of his modest East Baltimore home, large for his T-shirt, large for the Herculon-upholstered love seat on which he sits. His neck looks strong, the creased tan skin like old leather. The lines in his face make him look sturdy. He shifts positions solidly, working a sag into the Lilliputian seat. His forearms are beefy, and his hands look blunt and tough.

As for his art, his wife says, "he doesn't seem to want to be bothered with it.". . .

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