Remember when you were a kid and needed to perform a chore or complete an assignment? Smart youngsters would get the job done right away; they’d get it out of their sphere of priorities, allowing the shuffling of other options without worry hanging over their heads.
I, however, took another route, providing myself the dubious pleasure of worry, waiting until the night before an assignment was due, racing to beat a deadline. Looking through old high school report cards, out popped comments like: “Grade would be better if little Daddy had completed his homework.”
And did I worry. So much childhood worry. As a … let’s say, um … a boundary stretcher? I worried if my latest escapade would be found out. I can recall, as a teenager, thinking: “I’m constantly in trouble.” I always walked a line. Yes, I worried about it all the time, but that all melted away as long as whatever scam worked. Luckily, I seldom got caught.
When I think back, I realize I worried if my parents would hear if I’d been smoking in the boy’s room. Would they see the bruises the priest gave me at school? I talked out of turn. My girlfriend broke up with me. Was it my breath?
How could I bother them when their own worries were so much heavier than mine? Mom bi-polar, Dad an alcoholic. Who knows which chicken, which egg, or independent of each other, but very real. I couldn’t … wouldn’t burden them with my stuff, no matter how genuine those kid travails were at the time.
And here we find the key. Worry is of its own time. Worry is only real now.
Of course we worry for the future. But worry only manifests in the present. Especially if we haven’t yet been caught for something in the past.
Momma X and I got married six months after she graduated high school, so we never worried about finding a mate. She gave up a local college scholarship, getting out of an untenable home life to get married. Not long after, she was struck with a chronic condition. That’s when we learned the hard way what real worry is about. Twelve operations and numerous scrapes with death plagued us all that while.
We didn’t exactly lose our twenties. We’re positive people, or rather have learned to be. We made the best of what we had when we we had it, enjoying to the utmost those periods of near-health that could last for months. We knew, in the harshest terms, at a very early age, what good health means to our well-being.
Worries followed us like they follow everyone. Looking back, our troubles really were more intense than considered average in our group of friends. But the friends had different experiences that probably affected them as much. Everybody winds up with baggage that can mirror, or not, our own—at least in perception of how it affects us.
In addition to health concerns, we had other, perhaps more familiar issues as well. Could we pay rent this month? Did our jalopy break down? Will we get busted for weed?
We didn’t have children, ducking the experience of the ultimate worry: Concern over our progeny. We never wanted to take on that kind of responsibility. It proved hard enough making decisions for ourselves. We never wanted to make rules for other human beings. Do we raise our kids professing our own values? Could we be honest? Or do we make it easier for them, advising not to make waves or take tangents? Will they accept our admonitions? From what I see, parenting is often a roll of the dice.
As a little kid, I can remember thinking that adults only talked of illness. Little did I know. In our youth, we see the elderly as constantly chasing health. Of course, our lifestyles, past illnesses, and other health history can dictate what we’ll be going through when we get older.
Seems very few weeks go by now without a doctor’s visit for at least one of us. Sometimes we get back-to-back appointments when we use the same practitioner. We worry about those visits. Too often these days we hear something we don’t want to hear, something that’ll generate more visits.
“You have cancer.” “You need a liver transplant.” “You’ll have to complete a year of Interferon/Ribavirin treatment.” “I’m afraid that’s melanoma.” “You know that operation will need revision soon.” More worry.
And then, just this Saturday, I got back lab results from the blood tests I’ve taken monthly since my liver transplant in ‘04. Seems the new anti-rejection meds (recently changed after nine years) may be responsible for a spike in kidney, liver and lipid numbers. My balls ache. We’ll see what the doc has to say. I’ve dodged many bullets over the years. One’s gonna connect one of these days.
Momma woke this morning feeling ill. We don’t yet know what it is.
At this stage of our lives, worries have narrowed in scope. The little home is paid off. Not a chance of a landlord kicking us out. Our savings should carry us through, even though we figured on a lot more income than the quarter percent banks pay these days. We have good health coverage. We have each other.
And I still hustle.