Random Thoughts from a Restless Mind

Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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I’ll Be OK: Sunday musings…7/17/2022

1 Open. Wow. What a golf tournament. Cam Smith holes out everything to spoil the feel good Rory story.

2 Wedding 1. Our closest couple married off their 3rd child last weekend. Nothing but smiles all around. There are few experiences more fulfilling than being treated like family at another family’s proudest and happiest moments, as we were so treated yesterday.

Congrats and bon voyage to Joey and Leslie. Fasten your seatbelts kids.

3 Wedding 2. Another couple with whom we are close married off their daughter yesterday. This one was quite an experience for both of us. Beth’s first Indian wedding (the mother of the bride is Sikh) and my first in 30 or so years. We both wore traditional Indian garb for the first ceremony, and then dressed up like the middle-aged Americans we are for the second, Christian ceremony. The festivities began on Thursday and only finished about an hour ago (we only participated on Saturday).

This one included a tiny little lesson in cultural respect. In all honesty, the effort that Beth and I made to show respect for the Sikh religion and traditions was really rather modest: we wore traditional clothing, took off our shoes, and covered our heads. Hardly worth mentioning, except that it must not be the norm, so effusive and sincere were the compliments and thank-you’s sent our way. Similar, but different (I was 31 or so) at my first Indian wedding.

All it takes to do the right thing with this kind of stuff is to ask a couple of questions and then make an honest and heartfelt effort. Heck, that should go for any situation where one is confronted with the opportunity to demonstrate your respect.

4 Clock. Nice little op-ed in this morning’s Plain Dealer by a former journalist honoring the memory of her recently deceased single Dad. Sounds like he was quite a guy. Union card-carrying auto worker who raised his daughter alone, gently guiding her away from danger while helping her find her way. When her marriage was over and she declared that she’d done all she coulde, he encouraged her to walk away and begin again.

“…life is too short to run out the clock.”

I love that. Just love it. I wish I’d read it before writing any one of my “seize the day” essays over the years. It’s just the kind of everyday poetry each of us needs to hear every now and again. RIP Mr. John F. Palfy. It would have been an honor to have known you, Sir.

5 Happiness. This is what happens when you don’t sit down to write every Sunday: lots of prompts back up in between your ears and you just have to put ’em all down to make sure you don’t forget them. Maybe come back and expand on them later, or maybe not. Whatever. At yesterday’s wedding one of my dear professional friends dropped this one on us at lunch:

Happiness is reality minus expectation.

Another 5 word poem. Think about it a minute. If you live your moments fully engulfed in them, without the “filter” of expectation, the wonderful among them are much more likely to generate happiness. How often are we disappointed by something which, from the outside, is nothing short of spectacular, but it wasn’t the exact spectacular we expected. Deepi was using examples from our specialty (we sat a a table of physician families), but it was clear that she meant pretty much everything.

This one I’ll come back to for sure.

6 Pain. Funny how two identical body parts can fail is such disparate ways, and along the way give you a totally different experience. When my left hip fell apart it did so rather slowly across several months. Even toward the end, when surgery was already scheduled, the degree of pain that was life-altering only occurred if I was particularly active. Pretty normal, un-extraordinary stuff like walking a couple of miles with Beth fell apart within 200 yards or so. Work, sit around, watch TV…no problem. It’s been 3 years since I had my left hip replaced and since the end of rehab it’s been a breeze.

This time it’s a totally different gig. Roll over just a bit too quickly? Yeah…zero to 8/10 in 2 seconds. I can’t stand still for more than 5 minutes without the same thing happening. Heck, I was getting a massage for goodness sake and had to cut it short because I couldn’t lie flat on either my back or my stomach. In less than 6 weeks this one is imposing itself on every waking minute.

Now, I’m not writing this seeking sympathy. Nope. With only a tiny bit of luck I’ll be just as well a month after surgery, and I only have 6 weeks or so to go before this other hip gets replaced. What’s of interest is this little glimpse into what a life with constant pain might be like. As far as I can tell the pain has changed neither my outlook on life or on the future. I’ve been pretty good at maintaining my sunny outlook (still Lake Dad, Mega!), but it has made me think about what a life with pain always there would look like. My level of respect–awe, really–for folks who soldier on despite debilitating chronic illness has tripled over the last few weeks.

How fortunate am I, are we, to live in a time when at least some of the pain can be cured.

7 OK. Honestly, the quick 90 degree turn in the conversation took me totally by surprise. I’d casually mentioned to Beth that one of my Williams email buddies had shut down his blog, an endeavor that he’d really seemed to be enjoying. It made me wonder if he was OK. If anything was going on. Instead of sending in a batting practice fastball and asking why I was concerned about Thunder (none of us have “real” names on that thread), she tossed a knuckleball:

“Are you gonna be OK? I’m worried about whether you are going to be OK if I’m not here.”

Not gonna lie, I wasn’t expecting that one. For sure we’ve talked about what it will be like to grow old together. Stuff like my recent pain, when we might need to leave Casa Blanco and what that may look like. Statistically it’s much more likely that I’ll shed the ties to this life long before Beth. We middle-aged men are definitely the more fragile version of the species, medical progress regardless. Still, it was, is, a fair question. I’ve made no secret of how much I love my wife. Love to be with her, even if it’s just in the same space while we do totally different stuff (like now while I write and she plays a game she loves).

It’s interesting, isn’t it, that she chose to ask if I’d be OK. Not if I’d be happy or sad, but if I’d be OK. Between our very brief conversation and sitting down to write I learned that my buddy Thunder was just fine; he just wasn’t getting what he wanted or needed out of his blog and decided it wasn’t worth continuing. “Just fine” is what he said. Would I be just fine without Beth? Nope. Not fine and not truly happy. Maybe not even content. No matter how much I try to make the integer “expectation” in my friend’s equation “zero”, in this case I can’t even visualize my world without Beth.

But what I WOULD be, what I’m sure of, is that I would be OK.

You see, I have spent a life, already quite long at 62 years, a life that has been grounded time and again by unconditional love. Love from people who time and again told me that I was OK. That I had it within me to be OK, even when other people might not have been. Same with Beth. Our parents loved us since I was old enough to know and remember, however much they may not have liked us at times along the way. So, too, my maternal grandparents, Gamma and Gramp. They are there in my earliest memories as well, always letting me know that I was, and would be, OK. Probably gave them fewer reasons not to like me I’m sure. The same type of unconditional love has been with me for all of the years Beth and I have been together. It grounds me, still.

So, happy? No way. Content? Fine, like my friend? Unlikely. Will I be OK though? Yes my Dollie, I’ll be OK. I promise. The unconditional love will still be there. Unconditional love will be there forever.

One Response to “I’ll Be OK: Sunday musings…7/17/2022”

  1. July 24th, 2022 at 5:01 pm

    David Granet says:

    “…life’s too short to run out the clock…”.
    Thanks DW for honoring John Palfy by keeping those words alive. I never knew him yet he may have changed my life a little just now.

    If I ever lose Lisa and tell you I am just fine, please know I am lying.

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