It had been one of those bad days; a day so bad you might not brush your teeth just to project halitosis on those around you. You know the kind I’m talking about; one of those out-of-kilter days when everything rubs you wrong; the kind of day that puts you into a greasy, black funk, and momentarily you don’t care whether or not you exist. Yeah, it was like that. For me that experience is extremely rare, yet there it was; the kind of day that double crosses in style, and forces you into a smile so it can kick you in the teeth. I was one step away from punting puppies, going around stepping on ants, flicking boogers, and pulling wings off flies. |
You see, folks, by-and-large I’ve had a great life full of joy. I’m a 24/7 cheerful dude. However, as the years pass, I’ve become more aware that each day creeps closer to the end—my inevitable dirt sandwich. Worse, as healthy as I am, I cannot stop the fated biological process that eventually claims us all. Of all the species on Earth, we’re the only one that 1) knows time is temporary, and 2) looks at the stars and wonders what’s out there.
I say: Rats! How do you keep the music playing? How do you make it last? How do you keep the song from fading too fast?
Twenty years ago “the end” seemed a long way off, but now I see a shadowy form lurking behind me in the mirror. The message is clear: It won’t be long. Unwanted experiences like an arthritic finger will start insidiously occurring. But wait—I have further proof whereof I speak, to wit: Twice within the past year (when eating and drinking “improperly”) I’ve had a temporary balance problem, but not immediately—after hours have passed. This means (to me) that the problem doesn’t occur until the digestive tract receives the contents of my revelry. During such an occurrence, if I don’t sit down immediately, I may lose consciousness for a few seconds. The evacuation process (technical term: hurling) then occurs after which I am fine. Easy-peasy, right?
Last time was after I ate a large quantity of Bing cherries that looked suspect; however, (to me) they tasted fine, and I hate wasting food. Down the hatch, baby! Hours later I started to feel weird, and while kneeling to evacuate, swooned, and banged my head on the floor opening a cut over my right eye. Aside: Man, do head wounds bleed! Anyway, my buttinski wife comes in and insists I go to the emergency room. A battery of tests (and $11,000) later they find a first class AV (atrioventricular) blockage of my heart. This condition is a disease of the electrical conduction system; that is, when my internal EMF (electromotive force) triggers the heart to beat there is a 0.20 second delay. Pacemakers are not installed typically until the disease progresses to second or third class.
My heart rate has always been slow (40 to 60 bpm), which I attribute to an active lifestyle. My normal activities still include swimming, biking, running, weight training, and tennis. (Well, I also occasionally play Pickleball, but in comparison to tennis find the game to be a buzzkill. I figure I’ll wait until I get “old” and can no longer cover the larger court.) Anyway, my wife led me (by the ear) to a cardiologist who confirmed the ER findings. However, upon ascertaining that I am never short of breath or light-headed (except when being irresponsible), the doc told me don’t sweat it. I’m not, but the discovery that something is going on internally got my attention.
I asked the universe, “Why me?” That blackguard we call Fate answered: “Why not?”
Bottom line: I’m in that dusk area between day and night. Night will arrive soon; along with sleep’s big brother. And like dusk sneaks up on a cat, events of my life have slowly but surely slipped through my fingers. Our children turned into adults that live in another state; our marriage has suffered the usual bed death; in spite of my education and experience, I am no longer a value-added commodity in the work-a-day world; and somewhere along the line I went from a romantic young stud to an old cornball.
It’s downright depressing.
The insurance companies have actuarial tables, which predict the number of years one has left based on his current age. According to those statistics, the sand has almost run out for me; that is, the probable number of years I have left is a tick less than nine. Perhaps if I were in pain, bed-ridden, and/or incapacitated that would be good news. Fortunately, I have none of those attributes; but that’s not to say the situation can’t change on a dime—witness fist class AV blockage.
Is there a “Book of Counted Sorrows”? if not, there should be. Here’s a verse for inclusion:
Fear not Death, he’s not your master
Coming at you; faster, faster
For Death’s creator (who or what) created thee
And that, my friend, is the only mystery
As one standing on the platform preparing to board the Mystery Train, I suppose that should bring me comfort. It doesn’t.
As a parting shot, here’s a message for those who will read these words 10 to 15 years from now. As you are now, I once was; as I am now you soon will be. Enjoy life while you have it. Shun negative people and causes. Love unconditionally.
Whew! Now that I’ve vented all of those negative ions out of the room I feel great, and back to my former sunny disposition, which includes denial, and taking absolutely zero responsibility for my follies, faults, and temporary idiocy. Oh, and I’m focusing on the days I DO have not those that will start without me.
By Gene Myers, future ghost
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bad day, the end, balance problem, first class AV blockage, cardiologist, actuarial tables, sunny disposition,