My wife, the consummate kidder, suggested that I must have stepped on one too many cracks in my youth. Why else, she mused, would my mother be laying in a hospital bed with all sorts of pending medical excitement and procedures pointed directly at her back? If the truth were known, I probably did my share of hopping up and down on any number of cracks, with the specific intent of thumbing my nose at such a ridiculous superstition.
Now don't I feel dumb.
But only a little bit, since I imagine that if I took personal responsibility for all the various maladies and health challenges that my mother has faced over the years, I don't think I could live with myself. She has asthma and allergies. As a result she claims that she hasn't smelled anything since the Carter administration. She has Multiple Sclerosis. She's got diabetes. She likes to point out that she was "perfectly healthy" before she gave up smoking back in the seventies.
It is with this prior experience that I go cautiously into the next few days, not wanting to appear too cavalier, since this "tough old bird" (words she might use to describe herself) has dodged any number of the previous bullets that have zinged past her in the past thirty years or so. Way back when my mother's health first began to become a concern, when I was still in elementary school, I used to draw her "get well soon" cards. Most of these featured an elephant and a chimpanzee with a crew-cut. I drew a lot of those jungle scenes, and I fretted over every one. As the years passed, she surprised us all with her resiliency and I confess that I grew just a little blase about the way my mother kept herself going. Like her mother before her, she won't be kept down long. There's still too much to do. Get well soon, mom.