The Purring Heart
It's been an amazing journey. A year ago I couldn't walk twenty feet without stopping to let my old, enlarged heart calm down enough that I could continue walking. Like all animals, I tried to cover my illness. Walking from the parking lot to a bridge tournament, for example, whenever I had to pause I'd pretend to examine my bridge convention card as if checking something written thereon, and then, apparently satisfied, walk on for another twenty feet until another pretended confusion caused me to check the card yet again. Today I'm back to the rigorous workout program I've had most of my adult life: stretching, 30 pushups, 30 sit-ups, 30 minutes on the exercycle, and 45 minutes lifting weights on the Universal Gym Machine. My only current health problems have to do with being older. This summer my right knee explained to me that we were done jogging. It was quite firm about this.
|Dr. William Abraham|
Now come kudos to an army of family and friends. My son Clayton and his wife Maria, my sister Mary Beth Colpitts, the members of my chosen family here in Columbus, my many friends both in the United States and around the world . . . I am beholden to you all beyond description. To think of the many services done for me—and done so selflessly—chokes me up. It's a wonder to be loved like that.
Most importantly on this day, I must thank my donor, Andrew, and his extraordinary family. Andrew's life was cut short just as it was beginning (he was only 27), and the grief that brings to all who knew him must swell mightily at this sad anniversary. I've become friends with Barbara and Byron, his mother and stepfather, and I hope they take what comfort they can from the knowledge that Andrew's tragic death, and the family's decision to donate his organs, allowed the four people who received five of those organs to snatch life away from the dark abyss. To all those who loved Andrew, my heart—his heart—is with you.
All of us are architects of our own lives. Happily, joyfully, in the last year I've added a new wing onto the building, and, while it's not done, I'm proud of how it looks so far. The whole experience has changed me in many ways. Knowing I was dying, the only plans I was making in November of last year were funereal (a list of people to be contacted with news of my demise, what to do with the body, what to do with the property, where the will was kept, etc.). I didn't buy new clothing in 2009 (a waste of money), and I cancelled a summer visit to Las Vegas for 2010 with my nephew Aaron, knowing it wouldn't happen though we'd been looking forward to it for years. Suddenly comes this surprise operation, and amazingly I had a future life unwrapping before me like an present placed unexpectedly in my lap. How can I describe how a new heart changes you? How it makes you rethink the idea of yourself? I now take an incredible pleasure just in rising from bed each morning. In January of 2010, looking at my pitiful wardrobe in a new light, I promptly spent too much money purchasing new clothes, lots of them! And this past August, Aaron (who had just turned 21) and I went to Las Vegas (see "Mary Beth and the Gay Teddy Bear," September 25, 2010), where I taught him how to play casino games—and, I must add, things were going well until he suddenly . . . impetuously . . . stupidly . . . against all avuncular instruction . . . doubled-down at Blackjack on 12 (!), with me sitting next to him (!), instantly turning himself into my "former nephew." Last Thanksgiving I was in the hospital eating a meal I'm pretty sure had turkey in it somewhere. This Thanksgiving I will be with my chosen family, overeating real turkey as part of our traditional holiday orgy.
|Mama Explores Hydrology|
I've also plunged into a legal crusade, spreading word of the necessity of original promissory note production in mortgage foreclosures, about which I've lectured in four states and conducted numerous interviews (see "The Sexy Promissory Note," August 17, 2010). I've always thought, and continue to feel, that following the law is what staves off anarchy. The dean at the law school has talked me into teaching a six-hour course in the spring of 2012—yikes!
I've jumped back into other activities: theater (directing a play in July), playing bridge, working on my various books (both my legal tomes and my novels—I'm off to a writer's workshop in Florida in January), and, to my great surprise, I'm even dating again. Who knew that was possible?
That's a nice metaphor for how I feel on my first "heart day." I trust my heart will purr through many more to come.
“Dog Meat,” December 27, 2009
"About That Heart Transplant," January 24, 2010
"My Heart Belonged to Andrew," February 17, 2010
"Parakeets and Me," February 5, 2010
“Bears,” February 23, 2010
"Another Letter to Andrew's Parents," March 10, 2010
"The Dogs In My Life," April 18, 2011
"A Toast to Andrew," May 2, 2010
"Mama, Biopsies, and My iPad," May 19, 2010
"Milking Cows," June 8, 2010
"The First time I Nearly Died," August 3, 2010
"Rehabilitating Doug," June 12, 2010
"1999-2001: A Dramatic Story, " December 15, 2010
"Naming My Heart," March 24, 2011
"My Parents and Dummy," May 13, 2011
"Two Cat Stories: Mama and Barney in the Wild," July 9, 2011
"Stepping on Cats," February 8, 2012
“Snowbirding, My iPhone 5, and the Coming Crazy Cat Trip,” December 5, 2012
"Barney Cat and the Big Mammal Nightmare," January 7, 2013
“A Guide to the Best of My Blog,” April 29, 2013