Saturday, September 29, 2018

Oscar and Felix

A friend of mine tapped the window of my school bus one morning earlier this week, (scaring me half to death so engrossed was I in the book I was reading) and said,

“My son came to visit last night.”

“That was nice,” I replied.

“No, it wasn’t," he said. “He had a cold and I got angry. ‘Don’t you know that at our age your mother and I are susceptible to colds?’”

“And what did he say?”

“He said he wanted some soup.”

I laughed.

“So I made him some soup and told him not to touch anything.”

By this time I felt as though I were playing Oscar to his Felix, and I wanted to move back a step or two, but I was sitting inside my bus and he was standing outside it.

“Fred,” I said, “does it ever surprise you when you hear about someone’s death? Someone who’s younger than you?” At 76, Fred is a year younger than me.

“I think about it all the time,” he said.

I do too.

All of which brings me back to a memory from this past July when I got a call from my health insurance rep who said they wanted to send a nurse to the house to visit me. “The nurse will report their findings to your doctor,” she said.

Too late, I thought as I had just gotten over four bouts of bronchitis in as many weeks, and had even spent a night in the emergency room. I didn’t want to submit to another examination, but she promised to give me a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble if I did, so I agreed.

When the nurse got there he started asking a lot of questions: How old are you? Do you smoke? What medicines do you take? Blah, Blah, Blah. I answered all his questions, but when he asked how much I weighed, I didn’t want to tell him.  Unlike my age, my weight is my secret - and my business. But I wanted that gift certificate so I finally conceded.

When he heard the number, he looked as though he were surprised and said, “You carry your weight well.” And then, as though he thought I was the Pillsbury dough boy, he poked me in the stomach and said, “Except for right there.” (Unlike the Pillsbury dough boy, I did not giggle.)

But to get back to what I was saying earlier, I do often think about my mortality. But, and here’s my real secret, I am - despite my thoughts, despite my age, and despite the fact that I am (apparently) overweight - happy, and happier than I’ve ever been before.

My book, Dear Elvis, a story about grief and loss can be found at

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