About 7 years ago, a pulmonologist told me that my lungs were in terrible shape. He opined that I had about 2 years of walking around with oxygen and 2 years of home confinement. That wasn't particularly good news since I already had heart disease, prostate cancer, and Crohn's disease. He put me in pulmonary rehab. In the hospital when I completed the therapy, they suggested I go to a gym three times a week. I selected the local YMCA,
and have been going six days a week. I get up a 5 am, read paper and due puzzles, then go to the gym at 7am. (and then reward myself by going to McDonalds for breakfast. The routine must be working, 'cause I'm still here, thanks to YMCA.
It was at the YMCA where I met Joe, he is a raucous, loud mouthed, New Yorker, with a heart of gold. I wear my oxygen and do a lot of resting in the gym and Joe will come by and harass me. He tells me that if I work a little harder, I could look like him. My response, when on the treadmill, is to turn it off. (He is in pretty good shape, and walks about 2 ½ mile before using weights.) When I'm idle on one of the weight machines, or talking to someone else, he doesn't mind butting in and telling me that the machines were made for activity, not resting or talking. Then I have to come up with some sort of snarky rebuttal, like—I overheated the machine and am waiting for it to cool off, or I'm testing the theory of inertia (a body at rest, tends to remain at rest).
Joe generally is the initiator, of our banter, but I finally got him once. He was on a weight machine that works on his ABS. I noticed he had a slight paunch, (not bad, for someone about 60). I told him that the machine was really working, his ABS were getting huge, and that they no longer were just a 6 pack, but now had grown into a keg. That was about the only time I had really gotten him,
He responded a little later coming up to me one day saying “Today is August 13th, my anniversary, why didn't you congratulate me”. I said, I didn't know it was your anniversary, it also happens to be my birthday. He yells out for all to hear “Oh no!!, now every anniversary when I celebrate it by making love to my wife, I'll see a vision of you”. He has loudly repeated this story, over and over, but finally I got the “coup de gras”.
I hadn't be feeling real “chipper” for a while last year, and was having chest “pressures”. I hadn't said anything to anybody about it , but I went out and got Joe and Barbara (his wife, a real sweet lady) an anniversary card in an envelope marked “Do not open until August 13th”. It was a real nice card, and on the bottom below my greeting, it said “over”. On the back , I had put an ID picture of me, saying “so you won't forget tonight”.
Shortly after that, I went to the VA for a routine physical, and ended up in an
ambulance, going to the hospital, and getting a pacemaker, and defibrillator. It took a number of months to feel better, but by the time August 13th rolled around again, I was feeling much better. Joe, Barbara, and I had a good natured laugh about the card. Then Barbara asked me why I gave them the card so far in advance. I told her that I thought that I might not still be around. She rushed over and gave me a big hug.
Of course, I was still happy to be around, but it would have been an even bigger coup, if I had reached Joe from beyond the grave. I did get a consolation prize.
Barbara informed me that she was keeping the card on their nightstand by the bed.