25 March 2010

45 and Life To Go

"I can beat ya to the front door!"

The challenge was laid down with all the unbounded confidence my lovely Wee Lass could muster. I knew she couldn't truly beat me to the front door, but those blue eyes and the mist of freckles across the bridge of her nose weakened the last vestiges of competitive instinct leaking from my worn out ego.

She would beat me to the door, and she knew it.

I said "Oh, yeah?" and did my best imitation of Apollo Ohno at the starting line. She laughed and took off running. I made a half-hearted leap forward, two, three strides and then fell back into my tired lope. The breeze was up, blowing her hair back. She really did remind me of a colt. I swallowed the lump in my throat as she raced to the door. She beat me with lengths to spare, and found it hilarious.

Watching her run, hearing her laugh, made me ache to live forever. Just so I could be around her lightness, her "winged energy of delight" as Rainer Rilke may have described it. Sometimes I think he wrote that poem with her in mind. The tears in my eyes came from knowing that I won't be around forever with that laugh like silver bells ringing in my ears. It made my heart sore with a bittersweet ache.

My heart. I have been thinking about my heart frequently as of late. I wonder what shape it is in, if it is feeling any stress cracks, if the wounds are starting to heal. I worry about it in a practical sense, as well. Many of the men on my dad's side of the Gumbo family tree had heart troubles, some with fatal results. My brother, as many of you know, passed away last year from what was most likely a massive heart attack. At least two of my uncles had multiple heart attacks, one died in his mid-forties.

I remember hearing my father and one of my uncles joking long ago, that if "we can make it to forty-five, we've got it made!". I was too young then to get it, to understand what they meant. My uncle is no longer of this world, but my dad is still chugging along, beating that mark by a very wide margin. He's had some brushes with coronary troubles, very serious but not debilitating. I have to say this is one of the few times I've truly hoped that I got my father's genes as it relates to the ol' ticker.

All that flashed through my head, watching my daughter run and giggle her way to the front door, because it's 45 and life to go, my daughter's eyes and laugh tell me so.


  1. First, this post sings a truth that is so rare, I feel I must immediately print this post and frame it before you remove it, it evaporates, or the morning sun shows me something different.

    Dang. You Write Well.

    Second, it sounds like you are one lucky man if your ticker is still ticking, esp in regards to your family heart history.

    Third, your "labels" caught my eye. I've never seen such a poetic list of labels in my life. Sheesh, you'd think you're a writer or something. ;)

  2. That was indeed touching and I am sorry but am sure cannot fathom the loss you have suffered. You will do right to take care of yourself properly for all that history of heart trouble in the family.

    You are lucky to be so much in love with someone that you would want to live forever to be wit them and just the thought of not seeing them anymore hurts something terrible!

  3. Um, happy birthday?

    My grandpa died in his mid 50s from heart attack. My father, who had his first heart attack in his 50s--thanks to modern medicine and despite numerous heart issues--will be 80 this year. I am lucky to still have him in my life. As I am sure Wee Lass will be thinking when you're long into your golden years. Fingers crossed for us all.

  4. So did you race again? And beat her? You know, put her in her place?


    My granddad had several heart attacks when he was younger, now at 82 he's still playing golf and tennis!

    I feel the anxieties, know them well.

  5. Ah...I know this one. All the women in my family died of heart disease. Worries me sick because I want to be here forever and ever, even when my kids aren't cute and cuddly anymore. Loved the visual of her running....I'm sure she is beyond beautiful.

  6. I loved that coltish phase, when my daughter was all angles and elbows. Enjoy it while you can, before you know it she'll be rounding out into a young woman.

  7. In the short time I've frequented this masterful blog, several times now you've managed to embody some of the sweet sadnesses I've felt while watching my baby girl slip slowly into her own future, so accurately that I sometimes think it's a story of my life.

    Well done sir, keep fighting the good fight.

  8. As I once told my mother... "I intend to live forever... so far, so good."

    My father's father died at 65, as did his father, and his father before him. My paternal line seemed doomed. But that was before we knew much about strokes and high blood pressure and things that can be done about them. My father made it to 84, his youngest brother to 86 (I believe, he just passed away last month losing a battle with pneumonia). I inherited my mother's blood pressure so I don't have to worry as much as my brother, who got Dad's.

    My point? I dunno. Life is a journey, a mysterious one, but there are good forces at work too.

    But thanks for jogging those memories of my racing my son to the front door...

  9. Innocent laughter, bright eyes... all the masonry needed to mend cracks.

  10. get your heinie to the cardiologist and find out how you are doing! Ignorance may be bliss, but it can also be a pain in the ass. You need to beat her every once in a while so she continues to think of you as the Super Hero you KNOW you are to her...

    and Rilke....now I'm feeling ya...letter to a young poet....oh la la la la...

  11. If you live to be 100, you'll still hear that laugh - it will live forever in that very heart you worry about.


  12. Maybe a stress test will put your mind at ease. Sometimes those machines that go beep can relieve anxiety.

    Gorgeous post. Your writing is so full of everything.

  13. You're a better man than I am. I'm so against running (it's SO uncivilized) that I won't even do the chase-and-lag bit with the kids. I just stomp real loud as I keep walking!

  14. Ha, man you just reminded me of when my own father would say in his late forties- If I make it, and that is if I do...and moan loudly, lol!

    I hit fifty next year...give me another twenty!

  15. 45, you are a baby ... you have plenty of Life to go ..
    Perhaps seeing a doctor might relieve you of any nagging worries but I myself, avoid doctors and refuse to think of any other scenario than being the oldest woman on earth one day, still laughing at the babies as they grow.
    See you there :)

  16. Very lovely, very very poignant.

    Over here from the Goddess' blog, and happy to make your acquaintance!


"Let your laws come undone
Don't suffer your crimes
Let the love in your heart take control..."

-'The Hair Song', by Black Mountain

Tell me what is in your heart...