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Tuesday, 06 October 2015

A Perfect Day

By Bettijane Eisenpreis

Before I looked out the window this morning, I suspected today would be perfect. The pope is in New York so I have absolutely no obligation to go anywhere. To the contrary – the radio and TV news people make it sound like a patriotic act to stay home. Just think of all the cops who can take their attention away from me and focus it on the pope.

The weather is a cliché – “a picture-perfect September day.” When I went to the health club this morning, the sky was the blue you seldom see in this polluted industrial country. I took deep breaths of air and imagined I was on a prairie somewhere, not in the middle of New York City.

Two months ago, I was conducting religious services, as I do once a month, as a lay leader. Daily services in my synagogue seldom attract many people but on that day I had a relatively large congregation including our new cantor.

“Who am I,” I thought, “to officiate before someone who is more than capable of leading me?” I was pleased, but also nervous.

About ten minutes into the service, I felt a stabbing pain in my chest. I kept on reading aloud, convinced the pain would soon go away But it didn’t – not for long after the service was over. Had I been 40 years old, I might have noted it in my daily calendar so that I could mention it to the doctor at my next yearly physical. Or I might have done nothing.

But I am 80 not 40, so I trotted off to the doctor the next morning. He reported that my pulse and blood pressure were fine but there had been “a change in the cardiogram.” In other words, I had experienced a mild heart attack.

The operative word here is “mild.” I didn’t have to be hospitalized. I didn’t have to change my medication – at least not right away. What I did have to do – at my own insistence, not the doctor’s – was think.

No one’s time is unlimited but I’ve made it in relatively good health for 80 years. I still live alone in the apartment where I have resided for many decades. I have a son whom I adore and who loves me, and friends and relatives – not many but good ones. I must be doing something right.

What I am not doing right is worrying. I have always been a worrier but now it is time to stop. Maybe the heart attack came from worrying; maybe it didn’t. But I don’t have time for the amount of worrying I have always done. It’s time to stop.

I made three signs, which I have posted in three different rooms: “No Worry Before Its Time.” I cancelled two trips, one because the doctor said to and the second because I didn’t need the stress. Packing, flying, making arrangements – they are all too stressful, at least for now. No worry before its time.

And so, here I am, two days before I was scheduled to fly to Texas. The weather is perfect. I am making chicken soup which smells delicious. And I have nothing to do. Nothing but sit in my apartment, look out at the sunshine and thank God that I am alive.

* * *

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


I am glad your heart attack was mild and proved to change your mindset in a positive way. Eighty is a great age, and while my father actually died on the table at 88, my mother had him revived and he lived almost ten more years! It was a wonderful life and he was in his right mind right up to end. So it may go for you. Enjoy your life and it sounds like you are.

I love your positive attitude and suspect it has a lot to do with why you have been relatively healthy most of your life. Funnily enough I just read an article today that says worry is good for you--I think it was in an alternative health magazine online and I tend to discount much of that. I, too, am a worrier, but have learned to do less of that by age 82.
And I, too, have learned to simplify. Enjoy your chicken soup--I made some Sunday and will eat it all week long!

Some welcome positive thoughts here. Thanks for the excellent post.

Bettijane we want you around a good long time, you make us laugh and always have a good story.

Perfect post for me - while walking my dogs this morning in the most beautiful surrounding I resolved to reduce the amount of worry and anxiety in my life - so this week I am going to try and live without the TV news and paper headlines full of horror about which I can do nothing but worry - thanks for your post Bettijane

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