Worry About the Other Guy

The drummer in one of the bands I play with is a big fan of longevity, coming from genetics that have his 92-year-old mother still alive and sharp as a tack. He's in his 60s with a bad hip, but still comes out once or twice a year to help out a friend. He used to run his own band when he was in his prime, but gave up that stress once he retired. His other passion is racing, and he always shares an anecdote about meeting one of his favorite drivers. He' d read the guy's book, and just watched him race, but had never seen what he looked like. When he approached the track, he was surprised as the driver removed his helmet. “Do you mind if I ask your age?” he said, after telling him what an honor it was to meet him. “I'm 84 years old, son, and I'm not slowin' down!” He always remembers this story as a reminder to keep active.

My dad might have retired under 20 years ago, but he never stopped doing the things he enjoyed, from working on cars to marching in bands. His age and his heart condition have put limitations on those things, which he found frustrating, but he still does better than most guys his age. He attempted a Memorial Day parade on Sunday, one with roughly a “p” shaped route. So we eventually looped back around to the point where he felt tired and achy, and he joined us at the reviewing stand. He didn't have chest pains, at least not as severe as before his heart surgery, but did the right thing in playing it safe at the first hint of them.

Riding home, my thoughts were of things other than the stress of the traffic on the Long Island Expressway. I hoped my dad was indeed okay. I thought of Bill the trumpet player, 84 years old and unable to drive, who made it through the whole parade. He walks with a cane now and has a bad hip, but he left the cane in our car for the duration of the parade. Usually we drive him home, but on Sunday asked that he have his wife meet us halfway, to save some time. My mom's cat Cubby hadn't urinated in over 24 hours since visiting our vet, and we wanted to get him to an emergency veterinary hospital as soon as possible.

I don't always do well on highways, even years after getting over some weird stress or anxiety attack problem I developed a few years back. I found my brain to be my biggest foe, and as I long as I don't even consider passing out, I won't feel like I'm going to. The mind is funny how it can play tricks on us. The first time I drove again without a hint of the problem, months after it first surfaced, was when my mom's cousin was dying. My parents had left a message on the answering machine that they were already at the hospital, so when I got home and heard it, I raced to meet them. I didn't even think about it. I just drove there.

After dropping Bill off on Sunday, I found a message on my cell from an elated mother, saying her cat had gone. It was only then that I considered how far I'd driven and under what conditions, with so much else on my mind. I played two more parades on Monday. My dad didn't even try to do the first one, just walked along with us on the sidewalk. One musician dropped out between gigs, with a prior engagement, so my dad filled in on the second parade. He did a lot better than he did last year, and than he did on Sunday, and only dropped out one block as a precaution. He's skeptical, but everyone keeps telling him how good he's doing for an 80-year-old man who had major surgery 7 weeks ago. I still don't think he understands the procedure. The other day he asked me to draw him a picture of how a bypass is actually done. I've lost track of how many times we've told him he's healing from multiple incisions, and he should see the scars on his chest. I think only now is he realizing there were arteries cut and healing taking place on the inside.

As of Monday night, Cubby still seems healthy, but he hasn't gone to the bathroom. He has a great appetite and is walking better, but he's going to get toxic again without treatment. My mom's been losing sleep over it, and I've even had it on my mind. It's funny how we don't even consider our own problems when we worry about those around us. My mom skipped dinner herself one night over the weekend, and I had to remind her that she'd be no good to anyone if she got sick. She's also insisted on tagging along to every parade or feast my dad goes to since his operation, but took little convincing to stay with the cat on Sunday. There are good and bad aspects to having the problems of others take our minds off our own. When our own self-worry becomes detrimental, it's definitely good to turn off certain voices in our brain. We just can't ignore ourselves completely, because the other extreme can also be bad. In the end, as with most things, I find it all comes down to a question of balance.

But enough about me; how are you?


Blogger Spockgirl said...

Your worries are many, mine are few. All I can say is certain things in life are ultimately inevitable, and it is best to try not to worry, but to appreciate those precous things in your life for the time that you have them.

So as not to end on a heavy note, a while back on your Plinks you posted some artwork done by someone in pen that looked amazingly like photos. I just found some of my old sketches and things, including the one I did in pen when I was about 20. I don't want to post it on my blog at this point (not that confident yet), so am wondering if I may email you the photo I took of it to see what you think? Highly unusual I know, but what the heck, why not.

6/01/2010 5:30 AM  
Blogger MCF said...

Sure, send it. I may not check my MCF e-mail before the weekend, but I'll definitely take a look.

6/01/2010 10:19 PM  

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