Mortality's something I don't like to think about, something I keep back-burning like cleaning out the gutters.
"Ah," I figure, "the gutters will wait for a while."
Problem is, mortality doesn't like to wait.
Last week, my daughter hits me up with a text: "Hey. My mom had a heart attack. Can you watch my dog?"
First: Bad way of communicating, daughter, bad!
My heart pounded, not a good sign. I naively thought, well, clearly my daughter meant her grandmother had a heart attack. But that didn't track; one's out-of-town, the other grandmother (my mom) would let me know about it louder than a three-alarm fire-bell.
I re-read the text.
Yup, clear as day, my daughter's mother had a heart attack.
In full-on, near heart-attack mode myself, I'm texting (damn, it takes a long time on ancient flip-phones: tap, tap, tap, wait, tap, tap...), calling ("Sarah, answer your phone, what the hell you mean your mother had a heart attack? Good Gawd, tell me...BEEEP.), you know, generally having a melt-down. Which helps no one.
"Okay, okay," I tell myself, "my daughter's not freaking out, so why should I?"
GAH! Tap, tap, tap, wait, tap, tap... "Talk to me, dammit, why's the world spinning out of control?"
No answer. My daughter had an hour drive into town. Good on her for not texting while driving. Bad on her for not utilizing a more immediate, stone-age form of communication : telephone! Hello, psychedelic freak-out!
Later, I find out my ex-wife did have the Big One. The "widow-maker," as the jokers in science refer to it.
I called my ex while she was still in the hospital.
She says, "Hey, we better take better care of ourselves, now that we're getting up there in age."
Fifty-five is the new beginning of middle-age, as I constantly remind my wife. My wife laughs.
Sure, I have a tendency to ignore my squelchy knees, my sore back, hair where it shouldn't be and hair that's fallen from where it's supposed to stay put. In many ways, I'm reverting back to my baby stage.
But I can remember being young. Gotta' count for something, right?
Shameful, but I had to pull up a calculator to figure out my age. No lie. Guess it's something I've been trying hard not to think about. But, c'mon! Some dude from Game of Thrones just died at the age of 93! I'm only 49 (alright, alright, 54)!
New health regimen. Exercise 'til I vomit. Nothing but food that's good for me (and tastes like crap, because those two requirements go hand in hand; yum, kale!). Less alcohol. Regular sleep hygiene. Don't stress out over my family.
Starting in 2017, of course. After I clean out those damn gutters, once the weather turns friendly. Gotta' fortify myself first.
Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say. (And trying not to think about the short period it took for the Roman empire to fall).