It's been an intense week.
I posted earlier in the week about meeting some incredible older men, with amazing stories and histories. I find that if one really wants to understand the history of the early to mid-20th century, the thing to do is find people who lived it and talk to them.
My wife Laura's maternal grandmother was born in Providence, Rhode Island in 1918, at the height of the flu pandemic. Her father later told her that she was put in the corner to make it or not make it; he could get another daughter but not another wife. She said she'd been fighting ever since, and everything I ever saw from her confirmed that. Her father was a physician in Providence, and saw patients in the front part of their house. People paid when they could, with whatever they could, and that became especially so in the 1930's during the Great Depression.
The stories go on and on. While working for Outward Bound, I took a group of semester course students into Leadville, Colorado, to do some service work. We met an 80-year-old mining widow. Her husband had passed away decades before from health issues related to silver mining, and the resultant lead in the water that gave the town its name. She remained here, in the highest town in North America, to live out her years, and told of the earlier days raising her family there.
But, I digress (I sometimes think that should be the name of this blog).
Meeting the men, listening to the elders like a wondrous child, was a high point for certain, but a couple of other things happened this week that I think will have a more lasting and profound impact on me.
One of those older men, Dominic, is Jay's great-great uncle. He is 92, and the brother of great-grampa Pat. During the course of the evening at the restaurant, I met a tall, physically imposing woman who had served in the Marine Corps. In the course of the conversation she said that she was about to turn 40, and that Dominic was her father.
THAT caught my ear.
I asked her more about that. We did the quick math, and sure enough the age difference between her and her father was almost precisely the difference between me and Jay, 52-plus years. I asked her about her experience.
She loved it. "It was great. He had time to be home for me, he was always there. He was young at heart, and we had so much fun together." And now, about to turn forty years old, she still had him.
One of my concerns is leaving Jay too early. I wonder about my ability to stay alive, to stay healthy, and vibrant, and at what point caring for me might be a burden on a young man. This meeting gave me hope, and a kick in the ass to get healthier. It can happen.
On the other side of hope is fear. I choose not to live in fear; I have seen it consume people. It's generally about as useful as Worry, which is the expression of fear in a slow burn, consuming fuel and life from people who should have other, productive things to do.
A close, dear friend is spending the weekend in the hospital, awaiting heart surgery. He's a few years older than I am, but like him I am overweight and have diabetes. My blood pressure runs a bit too high. I could be in a bed like that soon unless I change the course of my life.
Last night, at 11:00 pm, I should have been asleep but all I wanted to do was relive my early morning. Jay awoke at 5:10 am, and we set about putting together his shiny new train table. By 6:45 he was gushing over his new furniture- "OH, WOW!!!!", followed by "THANK YOU DADDY!!!". By 6:50 he was in my lap, lowering my blood pressure and removing the angst over "bolt B".
It's time for me to get it together. I am morbidly obese (don't waste your fingers typing a response that I'm not; the math is what it is. Denial is what has kept me here too long). An "ideal" weight for my height is probably about 60 pounds under where I am right now. THAT sounds intimidating, but let's start with a number that sounds within reach. Project 199 will being Tuesday, July 1st. That will involve dropping about 20 or so pounds. Then we'll go from there. I expect momentum to carry me beyond, but first things first. 199 is in my gunsight.
Monday is my birthday. I will enjoy cake and ice cream. Tuesday I will weigh in, and we'll get this party started. I have seen where I want to be and where I don't want to be this week, as clearly and honestly as it could have possibly been laid out for me.
Let's do this.