A couple of nights ago I was sitting in the kitchen of my Cub Creek cabin, pain-free, ambulatory and steadily on the mend, and therefore feeling contemplative because it was the eve of my birthday and two months since I was released from what I call my most-recent “medical adventure.” I’m prone to late-night rumination of a personal nature, so that’s what you get this week in this space. Also, I didn’t have any other ideas for a column.
In my Medicare years, I’m of an age when reminders of mortality (how could Tom Petty be gone?) or infirmity are constantly gobsmacking you one way or another. There are a couple of ways to go with that. You can get all maudlin, depressed and fretful, ruing wasted time or squandered opportunities. Or you can be grateful for another birthday, for another day of any kind, for all the good things and extraordinary people that have accrued in your lifetime, for the chance to add to that tally in the time allowed.
I know I am lucky, generally and specifically, to be here. In the general category, I’m alive, thanks to modern medical intervention. First there was the prostate cancer. Other than “it’s gone,” the less said about that the better. (Except to you guys: For God’s sake, stop being squeamish and get a regular prostate checkup.) Then there were two episodes, seven years apart, of apocalyptic staph infections attacking my spinal cord. Neurosurgery was required in each case, followed by weeks of scorched-earth antibiotics to eradicate the infections, followed by more weeks of physical therapy to begin restoring all functions.
The context for that litany of maladies is this: There is nothing more moving and humbling than the love, concern and care expressed by the people in your life when you need it most. It is emotionally overwhelming to be on the receiving end of such unalloyed human generosity. I couldn’t be more fortunate.
Specifically, I’m lucky to be in the Methow Valley doing something I love for an appreciative community. The support I received — good wishes, offers to help, small but meaningful gifts, heartfelt encouragement — during and after my month in the hospital has been revelatory. Thank you for asking how I’m doing. The short answer: Better all the time, and being back in the valley has a lot to do with that.
Lately, maybe because I survived and am back at work, people have been telling me how grateful they are for how this newspaper serves the valley. I certainly can’t take exclusive the credit for that, but I appreciate the thoughts. So again, thank you — but the gratitude, for everything I’m blessed with, is all mine. If my luck holds up, I’ll be expressing that for a long time to come.