Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The End of My Life

I've been reading a book called, Through Black Spruce, by Joseph Boyden.  I read The Orenda, and liked it so much, that I searched for what other books he'd written.  He is an excellent writer, and he tells a story in a way I wish I could write.

Anyway, there's a story about how the main character is in a canoe when he spots a moose.  He slowly takes out his rifle to shoot the moose, which he needs to be able to survive the winter.

Strangely, that got me thinking about the moose.  Here she is, in the middle of the woods, maybe never having seen a human being in her entire two years of moose life, and with two bullets, her life is ended.  I made a connection to the moose with my own life.  We don't know how our own lives will end.  We may never see the end of our lives coming.  And then it happens.  

When I was younger, I don't think I had many thoughts about the end of my life.  Now that I'm 60, and after having experienced the deaths of so many family members and friends, I can't say I think of it constantly, but I'm aware of it almost every day.  We don't get to choose, any more than we get to choose what illnesses afflict our bodies.  

In my early teens, I used to think to myself, "I'm never getting cramps."  But then in my 20's, I had pretty miserable cramps.  In my 20's, I used to say to myself, "I'm never having back problems."  Ah, the arrogance and ignorance of youth.  I've had back problems galore, especially for the last 30 years.  

Last year, I had some blood work done, and it showed that I had metabolic syndrome, which is the precursor to diabetes.  I had always thought, "I'm never going to have diabetes," as if it were something I could will away from myself.  My doctor told me that I could prevent it from happening if I lost weight and exercised more.  That pronouncement was the only thing that made me determined to lose weight, something I hadn't even tried to do seriously since 2008.  

I've never enjoyed cooking very much.  In fact, for most of my married life, my husband has done the greater part of the cooking in our home.  Then I retired, and although I had never been a fan of cooking shows, I started watching The Chew.  I'd print out those recipes from their website, go shopping for all the ingredients, and cook up a storm.  I wasn't worried about my weight.  I figured, "Hey, life is short, and I'm going to enjoy myself!"  

My cardiologist had a fit when he saw my cholesterol numbers.  I told him I was retired and cooking a lot now, and he said, "I bet you're watching those cooking shows and using butter."  I emphatically said, "Yes!"

Even with two surgeries to repair the torn meniscus in each knee, I didn't lose weight.  Even when the doctor grabbed at the area above my knee and said, "That's fat!" I wasn't motivated to lose weight.

But when my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic, that did it for me, so in the past three months, I've lost 35 pounds.  And yet, I still think about the end of my life.  

The point is, I guess, it doesn't do a lot of good to wonder what it will be that takes us out of this life.    We live our lives the best we can.  I like the saying by John Wesley, "Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, at all the times you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can."  That doesn't mean I live my life as a Pollyanna, without any character flaws.  I have many flaws, I assure you.  And I've grown very cautious in my older age.  But I still hope to have adventures.

Yesterday, I spent about five hours weeding the herb garden in my back yard.  My knees don't work as well as they used to, and and so I sat on my little rolling garden caddy, to be closer to the ground.  I pulled and hacked and cut until I could barely move.  I didn't realize how long I'd been at the task until I came inside and saw the clock.  I was so enervated, I could hardly make it through my shower without collapsing.  

That got me thinking, as it usually does after these marathon gardening sessions, about how long I'd be able to keep up my gardens.  Would I still be able to do this in five years, ten years, or even next year?  I have no clue, but I will keep on going as long as I'm able, and try not to think about the end of my life too much...

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