Final Jeopardy

The final Jeopardy answer is “This is the hardest question you can be asked.”
What is “How are you?”

But before we get down to business, here I am with my grandcat, Alex. He’s the sweetest.

My father used to tell about a man he knew who, when you asked how he was, he’d reply candidly and in detail.  Whether his knee was bothering him, or he was recovering from surgery, he gave you the full picture, chapter and verse.

Dad vowed he would never be that guy, the one who complains about his health to all comers. This approach made sense to me, and I too swore I’d never be “that guy.” I didn’t want people crossing the street to avoid me and my health complaints.

But I think my father took his rosy outlo. ok a bit too far. When I was in my teens, Great-Aunt Gertie went into the hospital. When I asked what was wrong, my father told me it was because “she wasn’t feeling well.” I wondered why a cold or other everyday ailment would land someone in the hospital, and I became even more confused when Aunt Gertie died of “not feeling well” which also goes by the name heart attack.

My friends and I are mostly in our sixties and seventies, and I hereby dub us “the kvetch queens.”   (Yiddish for complainer.)   We’re all experiencing changes to our bodies and challenges to our health – and not for the better.  It’s downhill all the way, baby!  

I honestly don’t mind hearing about my friend’s chronic headache; indeed, I want to comfort her and provide any help she needs. Same goes for the friend with gastric issues, and the one who developed a paralyzed vocal cord.

One very smart friend has suggested I write a book called “What to Expect When You’re Old.” I counter with “Who in the world would buy that book?” I don’t know about you but I am not keen on reading about Alzheimer’s, cancer, stroke, and all the other things that might go amiss in this aging body. I’ll learn about these eventualities as they arise, and not a moment before. Ignorance is indeed bliss.

At least it is for me. Maybe you want to know about all the ills that could possibly befall you. Perhaps the world is clamoring for such a book. I honestly don’t know.

Still, how do I respond to queries about my well-being, whether stemming from concern on the part of a questioner who really wants to know, or a casual inquiry arising from mere etiquette. The latter may require nothing more than ‘Fine, and you?” Yet it feels comforting sometimes to share health issues – as we do with dating or work problems – with a good friend.

Which brings me to the subject of identity.  As in mine (and yours).  As Walt Whitman said, “I contain multitudes.” In no particular order, here are my myriad identities:  I am a white woman, an American, a Jew, a mother, retired professional fundraiser, an aspiring author, knitter, a divorcee and now, a chronic disease patient. 

Where does “patient” fit in the hierarchy of identities? I will do everything I can to avoid its becoming the principal way I think of myself, but that day may arrive. And how much detail do I provide when queried about my well-being? I don’t want to be bumming people out with sad tales of twitches and frozen muscles, but those things are, unfortunately, an all-consuming dimension of who I am at the moment.

I’d love to hear others’ thoughts on this subject.  Comment away!

Walnut Ricotta Pasta

And now, for your delectation, a favorite recipe that fits with dietary recommendations for those with Parkinson’s – nuts and green vegetables. I know we’re not supposed to eat a lot of dairy, so this can be a treat for “cheat day.”

Cook some pasta. In the food processor, grind walnuts, garlic, parsley (and/or basil), ricotta and Parmesan cheese until you get a thick paste. Thin it with olive oil if you wish. For added nutrition and flavor, add some cooked broccoli, green beans, whatever veggies you have around and grind those in. Mix the paste with the pasta and serve with extra Parmesan. Mangia bene!

TV Talk

And while we’re on the subject of television….I have some deep questions, which only make sense if you’re a devotee of British police procedurals.

  1. Doesn’t Nicola Walker tire of playing detectives?
  2. Don’t the Brits get bored with making the same detective show over and over again with just different people?

But I do love Nicola Walker. If you do too, or want to discover a terrific actress, check out The Split (family of high-powered divorce lawyers), Collateral (police procedural), and especially, (the best) Unforgotten (another police procedural).

In a lighter vein but still about British people solving murders is Rosemary and Thyme. People die wherever these lady landscapers go. Do not hire them.

20 thoughts on “Final Jeopardy

  1. Andrea Mattia

    I recall sitting with a friend’s four grandparents some 60 years ago. Their entire conversation revolved around doctors’ visits, complaints about their doctors, body parts succumbing to disfunction, counting scars from various surgeries, and musing about waiting for death. Never me, I hoped.


      1. Thank you. I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling. Take good care of yourself and also please make sure that you’re on the best possible medications. My neurologist who is a movement disorder and parkinsons specialist adjusts my medication probably every couple of months. We’re still trying to find the right dosages. It’s very frustrating but hang in there and I do hope you have or can find a really excellent physician. And maybe a therapist too . All my best,


  2. Marge

    B. F. Skinner wrote a book entitled “Enjoy Old Age” towards the end of his life. I own it (and most of his other books). Time to reread it.


  3. Marlene Miller

    Also “Annika”. Not a police procedural, but I first became aware of Nicola Walker on “MI-5”. (And yes, I know the period is supposed to be inside the final quotation mark, but I think that’s just silly when there’s no physical type to get lost.)


  4. Sober and important cogitations for every single one of us, sexagenarians+, with or without significant health issues. Thanks for doing the work and showing the way with these insights.


  5. Linda

    Beautiful writing, lots of humor – a pleasure to read, even if the motivation behind the blog is distressing.


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