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In Front Of The Mirror Of Middle Age

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”

An intermission, the curtain has closed on youth, but the next act awaits.

Caring for hiccups of the heart, like atrial fibrillation for example, often throws me in front of the mirror, of middle age that is, and sadly the reflections show imperfections. Since I am middle aged myself, there are my own experiences. But everyday at work, on my job site, I see the effects of these same middle-age experiences on the atrium of my patients. The results are often profound. So must be the pressures.

I read a passage in the wee hours of the quiet morning, in the dark, with a flickering book light. It grabbed me. It is from Elisabeth Strout’s Pulitzer Prize-winning, Olive Kitteridge.

Olive is an older women, her husband (Henry) of many years has suffered a stroke and now lives unknowingly of himself or others, in a nursing home. Her only son has moved away with a women who soon after leaves him. She is alone in her cold New England town and she ponders this thought:

“There was beauty to the autumn air, and the sweaty young bodies that had mud on their legs, strong young men who would throw themselves forward to have the ball smack against their foreheads, the cheering when a goal was scored, the goalie sinking to his knees. There were days—she could remember this—when Henry would hold her hand as they walked home, middle-aged people, in their prime. Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful? Most likely not. People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it. But she had the memory now, of something healthy and pure. Maybe it was the purest she had, those moments on the soccer field, because she had other memories that were not pure.”

Life moves so fast. The 100-year-old Dr. Bing likened life to a rapidly flowing river.

It seems just yesterday I stood in line at the coaches office waiting to dial the rotary phone to call Mom or Gramps for a ride home.

Here’s to enjoying the ride while on it.

JMM

h/t to Dr Wes, for the Dr. Bing video, and to Staci, who suggested Olive Kitteridge, along with many other good suggestions.

*This blog post was originally published at Dr John M*


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