Just a few years ago, I would always groan inwardly when my parents started talking about health, theirs and other people's. About 15 years ago, when we visited their friends on vacation, the conversations would almost always devolve into recitations of ailments. I told myself I would never focus so much time on health when talking with old friends and family. But as I've gotten older, I see why. Our health is so important to our lives. Since that vacation, my dad was diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease, my mom had a stroke, and even I, who almost never get sick, was laid low by pneumonia for several weeks. At 85 (Dad) and almost 90 (Mom), many of their friends and acquaintances are passing away. Just getting around is a challenge, and these are two very active people for their ages. I am conscious of their infirmities but also impressed by their persistance.
In recent weeks, I have had all sorts of routine tests, and I'm happy that they showed no signs of any ailments. I don't take any medications, not even vitamins. Once in a while I use Dr. Jarvis' sore throat cure (1 t. vinegar in 8 oz. water, sipped slowly all day), and it works. How lucky I am - and I have a good health/dental insurance plan, just in case.
But now two friends are having extreme health problems and they are on my mind a great deal. I'm worried, so what else would I talk about when home, on the phone with family, or when I'm talking to friends? Carol has been in and out of the hospital and rehab for a couple of months. Sandy just had two strokes. I think about how I can help them as, I hope, they recover. For Carol, I'll do everything I can to handle arrangements for the state quilt guild meeting in May. For Sandy, that remains to be seen although I can cook, clean, garden, drive.
I remind myself to appreciate good health while I have it. And I'll be more patient with my parents as they share their fears and concerns. Life is precious. As Warren Zevon said when he was dying of cancer, "Enjoy every sandwich."