It’s Christmas Day. Last year on this day, I spent a good bit of the day making a variety of Spanish tapas for the day’s celebratory meal. However, the day was a bit rough, as one of my brothers was in the hospital in physical decline, awaiting the completion of bureaucratic processes that would allow him to be transferred to hospice care; he died 34 days later.
This year, I will roast a large (8.7 pound) prime rib. Various delicious side dishes will complement the rare beef and the obligatory (for me, anyway) pungent horseradish that goes with it. My late wife’s sister will come over later today to partake of the feast. And mi novia and my sister-in-law and I we will play Sequence. I am not a fan of most table games; Sequence is one of the few I find tolerable. A new game, Ransom Notes, is another one I find interesting. We played the game last night after eating chile con queso and tamales.
As I sit here at my computer, my thoughts drift toward people who are alone today. I suppose today is no different from many other days, but troubling comparisons enter my mind: between people surrounded by friends and family and people who are alone. I have such thoughts every year. Every year, I vow to plan to alleviate, in the future, the loneliness for as many people as possible. And every year I reflect on the fact that I have done nothing to fulfill my vow. I wonder whether I am inherently depressive?
I woke up this morning with my shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, and knees screaming in full rebellion. They react with rage at my every movement. Two Motrin probably is not nearly enough to calm the angry nerve endings that protest the mere fact that I am conscious. They would prefer I consume a tumbler full of vodka or a potent, sleep-inducing, pain-deadening narcotic and return to bed. Vodka is out of the question, and I am more than a little reticent to swallow the most-recently-prescribed narcotic: Tramadol. Tramadol belongs to the group of medicines called opioid analgesics, which act on the central nervous system to relieve pain. My hesitation to use the drug in response to a bunch of very painful joints is based on an experience in which I reacted badly. My reaction could have been to Tramadol or to the combination of Tramadol with other analgesics or to the combination of Tramadol with the lingering effects of anesthesia. Or Tramadol might have been guiltless. My frightening reaction, which included delusions and hallucinations and serious thoughts of suicide, may have had nothing whatsoever to do with Tramadol. But I am sufficiently concerned about taking the stuff that I probably will not do it unless my joint and muscle pain becomes intolerably excruciating. It’s not there yet. Frankly, my frightening experience does not mirror the side effects I have read about, connected with the drug. But my experience was sufficiently scary that I will practice an overabundance of caution. Maybe I should ask for something else to combat the pain of age-related decay?
I have a story to tell. An embarrassing story about something that took place two days ago. A story that reveals the potential consequences of both excessive frugality and long-time neglect.
After attending the celebration of life service for a friend/member of my church—at which I read a poem I wrote for the occasion—we went to our friend’s home to visit with her husband and family. It was there, while I was speaking to him, that her husband pointed to something on the floor between us. Because I had just picked up a canape-sized ham salad sandwich on dark rye, I thought the dark “something” on the floor could have been a slice of the rye that I might have dropped. But it wasn’t; it was a crumbly dark piece of rubber. A while later, as I took a step, another piece of black rubber suddenly appeared on the floor. Immediately, I thought it could be from the sole of my shoes, in that my foot suddenly felt a tad lighter.
Change of scene: back home, in the master bath. I took off my shoes, only to discover the pieces of crumbling rubber had come off my shoes. Big pieces of the soles and heels of both shoes were missing. Though the leather uppers looked perfectly fine, the soles of my very old pair of Ecco brand shoes were crumbling. The shoes I bought several years before I moved away from Dallas were disintegrating while I watched. Mi novia expressed relief that the shoes had not begun to decompose while I walked to or from the pulpit in connection with delivering my poem of remembrance.
Needless to say, I am in need of a replacement pair of dress shoes. As nice as the uppers on my old pair are, it is time for me to discard the old shoes (probably 15 years old or older). I suggested to mi novia that I could just have the shoes re-soled; her reaction assured me it would be best for the shoes not to be reborn.
I’ll end this rambling reflection by wishing everyone who reads this, and all who don’t, a good day. Whether among friends and family or alone, everyone is on my mind this morning. I am thinking about you, And wishing you—personally—comfort and joy on this and every day.