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So This Is How It Ends by Gene Myers

So This Is How It Ends by
Article Posted: 11/07/2013
Article Views: 1276
Articles Written: 209
Word Count: 1039
Article Votes: 5
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So This Is How It Ends

My brother, Jim, and I played a bit of phone tag last weekend. I finally caught up with him as we simultaneously and separately vegged-out watching televised football, Jim in sunny Palm Springs and me in the blustery Midwest.

My two younger brothers have morphed into a perceived schtick of sophistication and faux maturity as we’ve aged. That is, Jim has become James, and Tom now spells his name T-H-O-M (same pronunciation). Hey, if it’s good enough for Thom McCann, a shoe store of yore, it’s good enough for my kid brother, Thomas. I hate to admit it, but his revised artsy-fartsy spelling actually makes sense. Similarly the French spell Terry T-H-I-E-R-R-Y maintaining the hard T sound because they think it’s bizarre to stick out one’s tongue when speaking. Unlike my brothers neither option is available for my name. What, you think I want to be called Eugene or use a diminutive like Eug? Seriously?

Anyway, Jim/James and I had the usual discussions about family matters, sports, what’s-wrong-with-the-government, and the work-a-day world of the modern business cycle. Before I rang off I made the perfunctory inquiries about the health of Jim and his girlfriend. See, we both forgot the courteous, throw-away opening line of: How are you? Polite society demands that little phrase be squeezed into all conversations, usually at the beginning. Did you ever notice that if you don’t get the expected response of (pick one) good-fine-well that brain fog sets in when your party launches into a convoluted description of his/her maladies? See, if something is wrong we don’t really want to know and be required to make phony sympathetic cluck-cluck, tsk-tsk sounds. If that seems cynical, you’ll appreciate the irony as you read what follows.

Jim sighed like our old aunts and uncles did a generation ago. Sooner or later we seem to adopt the same habits we laughed about as youngsters. Doesn’t the quirk of fate just grab you? He said, “Well, you know, we’re suffering the typical aches and pains of becoming older.”

In his case, I could believe it. He was an elite high school and Division I college athlete suffering numerous ankle and knee injuries. Take a look at any former college and professional athlete lucky enough to live past 55 years of age—and many do not. It’s heartrending to watch a former graceful athlete hobble around. Being an un-elite athlete I’ve been banged-up a few times, but nothing to cause chronic problems. I answered him sounding, but not intending to be, smug, “Oh yeah? I don’t have any…”

I’m four years older than Jim, but have a lifetime regimen of good diet, aerobic, and anaerobic exercise. I’ve remained toned, hard, and relatively flexible. However, I added, “…but I know IT’S coming.” IT meaning the wear-out section of the reliability curve to which all organic and inorganic objects and systems succumb—no exceptions!

I do my best to keep IT at bay. So far, so good. The only negative aspects are when injured, recovery takes much longer than it did once. Two years ago I walked away from a high-speed bike crash that could have—probably should have—killed me. Although I was back in the saddle within a week, some of the effects of that experience remain. Healing is a slower process, but (still) I’ve remained robust.

Then something changed.

Yesterday I noticed sporadic chest pains that have continued. So far I’m in a bit of denial and choose to believe the pains are muscular in nature and not of the heart. Here’s why: this morning I lifted weights, and worked out hard on the spin bike doing numerous sprint-recovery cycles. No pain. Zero! Same result when I ran yesterday. Nevertheless, this is the first time I’ve had to think about Jim Morrison’s (The Doors) old friend, The End. I’m wondering what I’ve left undone, and thinking about getting all my affairs in order; stuff I would rather put off, were it not for that subtle, insidious wake-up call.

What to do? My plan was to keep the domino-falling chain reaction from occurring for at least another 15 to 20 years (and 100 years for the over). I suppose I should get examined, but I have this illogical mindset that if I don’t see a physician there will be nothing amiss to find. (Again I point out my predilection for the psychological process of head-in-the-sand denial.) I mean, do I want to have to change my life, slow down, and count the days or be felled by a sudden surprise? That’s the question.

I’ll probably see what’s ticking (pardon the expression) for mere curiosity. Having a scientific education I’m incredibly nosy about cause-and-effect for electro-mechanical systems human and otherwise. In addition, I’ve always had pride of ownership; and have been a good steward for everything within my reach—lawnmower, bicycle, auto, appliances, home—including my health. I like to keep things looking and functioning like new. I’m reminded of Soupy Sales who once said, “Remember kids, always be true to your teeth and they won’t be false to you.” If there’s something amiss, I have this egotistical notion I can fix whatever is wrong. Where limitation of either knowledge or talent exists, I have no problem reaching out for help.

Deep down I knew this day would come, but prefer a (much) later arrival. C’mon, I’m still a young guy with a dream! So do me a favor. If you see a hooded duffass with a scythe looking for me, tell him I’ve left for Sumatra. A little misdirection should keep the specter off my trail for a while.

I’m not ready to be visited by sleep’s big brother. Not yet.

By Gene Myers (didn’t bother to copyright this one), author of AFTER HOURS: ADVENTURES OF AN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSMAN (2009), Strategic Publishing Group, New York, NY – a hilarious account of the author’s overseas travels; and SONGS FROM LATTYS GROVE (2010), PublishAmerica, Fredericksburg, MD - a mildly sinister, but amusing work of fiction. Both are available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and available in Amazon Kindle and Nook formats. Watch for SALT HIS TAIL, a catch-me-if-you can crime thriller.

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