So, a few months ago I posted a blog entitled “Longevity.” You can look it up if you’re interested. It was posted on January 27, 2017. In that post I mentioned that Mike’s mother was 100 years old and severely demented. I foolishly speculated on the value, or the lack thereof, of living to such an advanced age and state of cognitive deterioration. Well, Mike, Judy, and Michelle went up to Minnesota recently to help his mother celebrate her 101st birthday. They were joined by 2 of his brother’s children and 2 of his brother’s grandchildren as well as many cousins. Mike says that his mother was more alert than he had seen her for the past 3 years. She was awake most of the time and seemed to be aware to some degree of who was there and that it was a special day for her. Mike also found out how to get his mother to speak in a complete sentence in a meaningful way. He was giving her a drink of water and the top of the cup leaked water onto her shirt whereupon she burst forth with “You’re spilling water all over me!” Plain as day, she spoke. I guess it is a matter of motivation. Mike has posted a picture of himself and his mother on her one hundred and first birthday on his Facebook page. You can check it out if you want to. They are sitting outside in the courtyard of her nursing home, and she is humming a tune. You have to imagine the tune because it is just a picture so there is no sound.
Speaking of longevity, Mike’s brother, Bob, was not so fortunate. Yesterday would have been his 76th birthday. He died almost 6 years ago of complications of diabetes, heart disease, and ultimately, cancer. Bob was a very interesting fellow. Life never made sense to him until he discovered religion. He became very observant in the Jewish faith, and was a Talmudic scholar. He attended yeshiva at the same time that he attended law school. He earned his law degree from the University of Chicago at the age of 21 and was awarded ordination into the rabbinate a few years later. Bob and his wife have 5 children. Mike enjoys getting together with them. For one thing, they are a loving, devoted family, and lovely and interesting people. Also, they always have questions about Bob and his family life growing up. At this point Mike is their only real source of information other than digging through documents. Mike enjoys being a resource for Bob’s family. One of the most memorable and emotionally important moments in Mike’s life was at Bob’s funeral in Jerusalem. Mike had the honor of saying Kaddish for his brother at the funeral service.
Now that Mike has lived well over half of his life he is getting a perspective on things that it’s not possible to have for a younger man. Or for a younger cat for that matter. Mike says that as wonderful as life is, it does have a way of knocking you down some. He was at the doctor yesterday to have his thyroid checked and the nurse after measuring him and weighing him told him he was 5 foot,7 and 3/4 inches tall. He was shocked. He used to be 5 foot 10 1/2 inches tall. But, he acknowledged, life has given him somewhat of a pounding over the years. Even Judy says that he’s shorter than he used to be. Mike’s back was never straight to begin with and it is less so now, so I suppose that’s part of it. Despite the fact that he’s shorter, paradoxically, the floor seems to be much further away than it used to be. Bending over and picking something up off the ground is now something that he has to think twice about. The effort is now typically accompanied by unpleasant grunting noises with occasional curse words thrown in. And I have already mentioned in a previous post that Mike can barely reach his feet to trim his own toenails, and that Judy is going to have to start taking him to the Extreme Vet one of these days to get them trimmed. (“Nibbinubs,” posted June 3, 2017)
So, Mike’s Sunday morning group has just left. This time of the year they sit on the screened porch. This morning is particularly lovely. It is sunny, but not yet hot, and the humidity is unusually low. I heard a bird call that I have never heard before, but I didn’t see it. Bird identification is not something that would interest a cat, but Mike would have liked to know what it was. He didn’t recognize the call or see the bird either. Maybe next time. I saw a doe with her 2 fawns in the back yard earlier this morning. They were lovely. It is good to be alive. My advice is to enjoy it while you can, and try to make the world a little better each day that you spend on this earth. One day we will all be sweating in that Great Sweat Lodge, or praising God at the Great Revival, or attending the Big Meeting, or dining at the Great Dumpster, or davening at that Big Minyan in the sky. Or whatever your tradition might be. It will all make sense once we get there. In the meantime have fun, enjoy your relationship with your fellows, and with your God, and pick up the trash when you come across it (if you can bend down that far.) It really is a lovely day today.