Reports of My Demise Are Vastly Overrated

I think this about says it all.

Anyone who is a frequent reader of my blog knows that I am on disability for complications stemming from the removal of my colon about eleven years ago now.  I have chronic anemia, which in addition to the fact that I have pale Irish skin to begin with gives me the approximate complexion of a lighthouse beacon.  Add onto that my premature balding and a PICC line on my right arm for intravenous feeding, and I can easily see why someone would mistake me for an end-term cancer patient.  And many people, even friends, have made that mistake.

But…I am still breathing, walking around without assistance, and, on occasion, writing and acting when and if my health permits.  While I wouldn’t go so far as to refer to myself as a “viable” member of society, I think I can safely call myself “serviceable”.  If someone’s about to get hit by a bus, I could summon the strength to move them out of the way, and if one of my children does something stupid I can manage to bandage their wounds and otherwise perform my fatherly duties of feeding, clothing and ineffectually disciplining.  I may need a nap from time to time, but who doesn’t?

So imagine my surprise when I heard through the grapevine that I was knocking on death’s door! And not in that metaphysical way we’re all headed inevitably to meet our maker.  It’s coming soon, around the corner in fact.  According to the rumors it’s time to divide up my estate (split my baseball cards between my sons) and start looking for a nice plot overlooking a scenic view of the Hudson where my unaware corpse can rest peacefully.  It’s time to max out on as many life insurance policies as I can sign, take up drinking and smoking, and plan that trip to Europe I always wanted to take.  

I have to make a bucket list!  Let’s see.  A cabaret in drag?  Nah, my legs are too hairy.  A hair weave?  Nah, they always look like someone misplaced a chia pet, and nobody would recognize my corpse anyway.  Sink every penny I have into backing one of my original plays?  Nope, done that a few times already.  Maybe I’ll build a treehouse.  Or have one built, since I’m about as competent with a hammer and saw as a particularly uncoordinated three-year-old.  I’m more a danger to myself than any nail.   Maybe Mets fantasy camp if I find 500 grand in the walls of the house we rent.

What brought on this sudden concern with my impending demise?  Well, I have a lot of friends in community theater, and I don’t know if you’ve heard this before but they tend to be rather dramatic.  Their highs are way, way above the clouds and their lows are way, way, way beneath the lowliest rock.   A lot of them happen to be teachers, and a good many suffer from some sort of manic depression, borderline personality or bipolar disorder, but that is a subject for another blog at another time.   Suffice to say that if the rumor is more exciting, spectacular, riveting, and emotionally captivating than the ho-hum truth, there is fertile ground on which to plant a tall tale.   A man in the relative prime of his life, cut down too early and leaving two young boys and a long-suffering wife behind him in his wake?  What could he have been, what could he have done, what will the family do without him?  It’s irresistible.  But of course, in order to get anything to grow big and strong one must use a lot of…ahem…fertilizer.  Otherwise known as bullspit. 

Here’s the brass tacks:  I have a chronic illness that causes me not an inconsiderable amount of pain, especially after I eat.  My guts don’t work so well, so I don’t absorb a lot of the nutrients one must get to stay healthy.  So even with supplements, I’m still working on a third of a tank most of the time.  I need to sleep a lot and I have enough bad days or weeks to make holding a job pretty much impossible, and making long-term plans a crap-shoot.  I can’t eat anything I want anymore, and I have to be careful with the way I choose to spend the little energy I’ve got.  All that is true.

That said…my mind is still active.  I can still write and create.  I help out my kids’ Little League teams and oversee their homework.  Every once in a while I can give Mary El a break and get them to school, or make dinner, or fold some laundry.  I’m not a cripple, thank God.  And this August, with a good understudy in case I fall apart physically, I plan to appear in my play “Banshee” at the International Fringe Festival in New York.  It may not be as much as I used to do or wish I could do, but I still feel vital and necessary to my family.  Or at least not dead.

So no, I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, and if I’m lucky I can hang around for a good long while.  Europe will have to wait until I hit the lottery, as will the cabaret and the treehouse and Mets fantasy camp.  I’m pretty good at this playwrighting thing, so I hope something positive happens there.  Otherwise I’ll spend my time trying not to get hit by lightning, now that I’ve all but cursed myself to an immediate death.  To life, to life, l’chiam!    


    • Anonymous
    • June 13th, 2011

    I can’t believe I just read this awful rumor!! Overly dramatic community theatre people?? I won’t hear it!!!

    • Kae
    • June 13th, 2011

    Hate that you have such a debilitating condition, but it certainly doesn’t affect your sense of humor. I love your remark about “ineffectually disciplining.” That’s how it worked in our house with our child!

  1. Over-dramatic community-theatre manic-depressive teacher? I resemble that remark! (I thought you were looking quite fit last weekend.)

  2. @anon: I know, this rumor spreading has to stop somewhere, but don’t repeat that!

    @Kae: Well she turned out OK, so maybe there’s hope for mine.

    @Craig: I didn’t even know you were a teacher, although your being an actor made the “manic-depressive” part a slam dunk. And thanks, I felt pretty good last weekend!

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