I caught some sort of illness after I came back from Thailand that took everything. out. of. me. I thought it was jet lag at first, but it didn’t go away for weeks. I dropped half my classes and slogged through life.
I carry ill health around with me like a coiled spring in a box. You know, the kind with a red boxing glove on the end. I don’t know when it’s going to punch me in the face, but I always have to be prepared for it.
Do you ever read old books and wonder, “how did they ever survive that sort of life back then?” I do. And then I always decide that I would have been the one that died young. The Beth March of the group.
However, I am beginning to question that assumption.
Over the last few months I’ve been trying to turn my Grandpa’s handwritten memoirs into a typed book. Grandpa is turning 100 this year, and everyone who meets him is amazed at how spry and quick he still is. When he lived with us last summer he spent his time reading books and magazines, writing his memoirs, and outside thinning the apples in our orchard. In other words, the very picture of old-man health.
That’s why I was very surprised when I read his memoirs and discovered how sickly of a person he was when he was my age. In fact, he was pretty sure his health issues would be enough to keep him from getting drafted, though that proved unfounded. Still, he spoke about doing lighter work around the farm while his brothers did the more intense work, and leaving his plow for a while to lie in the fields and rest.
“Hmm,” I thought, “maybe I’ll be healthy when I’m an old lady.”
Just last week I transcribed the chapter Grandpa wrote about his mom, who is famous in family lore for living until she was only a few weeks shy of her 104’th birthday. I discovered that, lo and behold, she had so many health issues growing up that her doctor didn’t think she’d live very long.
Maybe this is a trend in my family. Maybe that means I’m not even a quarter of the way through my life, and it’ll just get better from here.
I always make jokes that I only live half the life that other people do. But when I’m an old lady, I’m going to live twice the life that other people do.