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Friday, 25 October 2013

Health and Happiness to All

Our neighbors were the poster kids for aging well. Both well into their eighties and self-sufficient and vital in a manner that would put people half their age to shame. They had lived in this neighbourhood for over forty years. They raised their children here. He mowed the lawn and ploughed the snow. She was a bird enthusiast and would walk in the ravine twice a day with her binoculars. Rain, snow, hail or sunshine, she would be out there, defying the elements soaking in nature.
Early one spring morning, the kids and I saw an ambulance parked outside their home. A few days after, I met her outside her home. She told me that he had a stroke. I hate drama but could not help my eyes welling up. To my horror, she was the one patting me on the back, reassuring me that these things happen. I offered help if she ever needed it.
He was in the hospital for a few months. By the time, he came home it was summer already. I was delighted to hear his hearty laugh through my open windows. A few days later, we were returning from a bike ride and saw a police cruiser and an ambulance outside their home. Another neighbour was sitting with the lady on their porch.
I later learned that he was diagnosed with Alzheimer's while in rehab. He had become violent. Three days at home and he hit his wife. He was placed at a facility close by. She could not manage alone. They sold the home. Last I heard, she was in rehab after knee surgery. He passed away two months back. I hope they made up before he died. They were married forty years. They looked happy together. I hope it did not end badly.
Old age gets even the best of us; the ones with a great attitude, the positive ones. It doesn't discriminate. My great-grand mother lived into her nineties. She was a lady with spirit and a great attitude. She lived in her own place in Lahore till well into her late eighties. She was easy with her laughs. She kept all of us kids entertained with card games; losing to us on purpose to give us money for ice cream but in the end, even she was not herself.
Life is a great journey as long as you have your health. This summer, I heard Dr. Donald Low's appeal for a dignified end. Canadian laws do not grant such liberties. The debate continues. God gave us the gift of life, who are we to end it at our own whim? Well, humans are given many gifts, one of the best being our ability to make decisions. If a person is of sound mind but suffering terribly physically with no near end in sight, should they not have the right to decide their own fate?
I don't have the answer but I do believe that we all should have the right to make our own choices. The one thing I do know is that you never know how you will feel till it happens to you. If you live long enough, you will grow old and if you grow old enough at some point, your health will give.
"Live long and prosper", they say but the "live long" part never sits easy with me. I wish people good health and happiness, instead.

1 comment:

  1. I like that. I hope I will just be happy. As long as I'm alive, I want happiness.