Yes, it’s no-post Saturday, but this has been festering, so I want to get it out.
I’m thinking a lot about illness lately. I no longer write about my own, but it’s made me very aware of the trials of others…and health in general.
How many times have we heard, as long as we have our health, we have everything? Now I always thought I really got this, but not until I had a decline of my own did I see how true that statement is, because without wellness, very little appears to matter.
I get up every morning challenged. It began in February and has yet to quell. I do the best I can, but life is not what it was. There are mornings I just don’t feel well, when even a visit with Carmela, the basset hound, doesn’t do a thing to lift me up. It’s as though my head was fastened to a stranger’s body. Illness is someone you don’t know, till he knocks and moves himself right in.
Yes I’m being cryptic because it’s not about details, it’s the awareness personal, physical peril brings to the surface.
I notice everything to begin with, it’s where I get the heart of my prose from…by simple, vigilant observation. What’s been added to the mix is how many people I encounter who aren’t themselves. They’re more facsimiles of who God created them to be.
I see children in wheelchairs unable to sit up, women walking slowly on the arm of an attendant. And not necessarily older women either. You notice a little shuffling of feet, an arm kept close to one’s side. You see how it’s taking every shred of strength to make it to the corner.
The other day walking down First Avenue, I saw a girl all of twenty with Down syndrome on her way to the market. She had that kewpie doll face with its sad though beautiful expression of a Botticelli painting. I watched her amble in, a Save The Planet bag slung over her ample arm. I found myself touched observing her determined, uncomplaining efforts to fill her needs.
Another painful sighting is the old man in a wheelchair with tubes up his nose while his nurse chats and textes ignoring him as if he weren’t there. He has that faraway look that at once tells you he’s no longer of this world…dreaming somewhere else, swimming in the sad, lonely waters of dementia. I can’t help but to wonder, could that merely be a myth that he no longer knows anything? Maybe he does come back to visit now and then. That’s when I want to pull the little Jamaican’s phone right out of her hand and stuff it down her throat.
We were never meant to live this long for starters. Science, that may have blessed us in many ways, also compromised our joy of life.
When I read about the founders they never heard of cholesterol or fat cells in mutton or Stilton cheese. They ate, drank vats of Medeira, loved, lived and died, usually happily I might add. If you lived to your eighties, like Jefferson and Adams, it was considered phenomenal. Now eighty is the new sixty, even with your colostomy bag.
Where am I going with all this?
To the store to buy organic eggs and Swiss chard so I can make a fat-free omelet with a spray of virgin olive oil brushing its pan. Oh yes, and I’ll pick up some gluten-free bread while I’m out and a pear, locally grown of course, for dessert (and a gun).
I’ll also notice my peers shuffling and swimming down the avenue knowing without a shadow of a doubt, when you don’t have your optimal health organically or otherwise, you truly have nothing.
Celebrate your health folks, because you never know…it could be heading south.