By Robin Jovanovich
If asked to come up with 15 things that are good about getting older, I’m talking AARP older, my response would normally be: “I’m hard-pressed to come up with three!” But this year hasn’t been like every other. My husband is now a 15-year double-lung transplant survivor, and at a celebration just before the arrival of spring, good friends came up with a list of 15 things he <hasn’t> missed because a family donated the organs he desperately needed.
At the top of their heartful and humorous list, in addition to vacations and theater trips with them, were grandchildren, three home moves…
There have indeed been miracles amidst the chaos. My husband, to borrow from Dickens, has, in a number of ways, been recalled to life. He has a new hip as well as young lungs. The back surgery he had enabled him to return to the tennis courts and the dance floor. Retirement? A thing of the past; he’s now jetting to Asia to assess afterschool classes. He’s meeting with ed tech start-up groups in Israel.
There have, of course, been mad dashes to the ER, worrisome test results, tedious recoveries, and so many ups and downs that a caretaker of a certain age is all of a sudden feeling her age, and increased consternation about the rapidity with which time is passing. Will the contents of boxes, overflowing with treasured letters; important articles and op/eds I plan to send friends living outside 10580; design ideas for that modern Victorian house I’m assembling when I can’t sleep; and scraps of paper with words whose definitions and proper usage I’m still not sure of and thoughts that might be woven into a good article, if not a novella, ever be unpacked and organized?
And the stacks of yellowing papers on my office floor? Will I have time to file all of the breaking news stories, profiles, and features going back to 1998 so that there is a proper record of The Rye Record when that time capsule is opened? I know the rest of the world has gone print-free, but I am the daughter of a printer and someone who always believes something wonderful under that pile is worth saving, rereading, taping together, and putting in a scrapbook.
Like any writer, however, I avoid deadlines. Obviously, I think about them, and recognize that some of them have to be met, but maybe there is an intern or an organizational genie who can magically take care of the rest. For starters, he or she could locate that list I compiled of locals I would really like to interview while I still have all my faculties! Joe Torre, where are you?
Meanwhile, there are friends, wonderful friends, to spend time with, and those grandchildren. Every time we see them, we notice that they are growing up as fast as we are growing old. The 5-year-old knows the names of and vital facts on no fewer than 60 kinds of dinosaurs and corrects our pronunciation. He can explain the thinking on Pluto’s planet status. Our granddaughter, who is 2½, runs to greet me, shouting “MIMI”, and loves when I wear my hair in pigtails like hers.
When my husband is in the backyard patiently showing our grandson how to address a baseball, I believe in miracles. Last weekend, Peter the Younger, who is “ginormous”, hit one “out of the park” and smacked the next one straight at his grandfather’s forehead. We’re sticking with plastic balls and bats a while longer.
There is actual food in our refrigerator if I know the grandchildren are coming over, even if they throw some of it and end up not eating most of it.
Never underestimate or fail to appreciate the life force. Without an organ donor and lots of extraordinary medical care, faith, love, humor, and help, we wouldn’t be here.
I recently read that 124,000 people in the United States are waiting for a life-saving organ transplant. I wish them all miracles.