Monday, March 22, 2010

Still Alice

And at last, the chronicle of the bathing suit is over. It's home, it's cute, it fits and I'm done paying out money for this to happen. I did a happy jig at the tailor's. Of course I won't know how truly good it is until I wear it swimming. But so long as I'm standing up dry, I look pretty darn cute in it.

Last night I read a book cover to cover. It was so powerful I could not put it down. It's called Still Alice and it's told from the perspective of an early on-set Alzheimer's patient as she begins to deteriorate. It's a terribly melancholy book, but well written and gripping.

I don't know anyone with Alzheimer's. No one in my family has ever had it. My grandparents are all dead now, and with the exception of my maternal grandmother, they all lived into their 70s, and with reasonably good mental facilities.

And yet I am somehow convinced I'll get it. That or cancer. Some people feel invincible, like nothing will ever happen to them. Not me. If anything, I think I'm overly aware of how random and unfair life can be when handing out health. I mean, I've had a number of ailments in my life that had I been born 75 years ago, I'd probably be dead by now. I just kind of feel it in my bones that I'm not going to become an 80-year-old some day. I could see living to 70 with some sort of dementia. But mostly I think something commonplace like a heart disease or cancer will get me before retirement.

How's that for doom and gloom?

The Dude, on the other hand, will outlive us all, and will likely attribute living so long to regular diet of bacon. I've never seen such an orderly body. Everything with him is like clockwork, his metabolism is fast, he never has trouble falling asleep and even the slightest workout adds muscle to his frame. And it's not like this is temporary. I've met his father.

His father drinks coke every day, eats what he wants and at about 5'6" probably weighs about 140 pounds. This same man fell down a flight of stairs while wallpapering, had the chair he was standing on tumble after him and puncture his lung, and the guy got up and finished the wallpaper job before driving himself to the hospital.

All in all, those are some enviable genes. The Dude doesn't like when I say I'm sure he'll outlive me. Some people don't want to even think about dying, but it doesn't upset me. Frankly, though, I find the idea of going first to be comforting. I don't like being left behind.

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