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Friday, July 23, 2010

And when I die . . .

When I was in my twenties I spent an evening listening to Laura Nyro singing on the stage of the Masonic Temple Auditorium in Detroit. It was years later, while working the electronic picture desk at The London Free Press, that I learned of Nyro's death from breast cancer; She left us while still far too young. I sat at my work station and quietly cried.

I closed my eyes and I could see Nyro on stage, sitting at the keys of her grand piano, singing, "And When I Die." And I cried.

The other day I celebrated my birthday. I'm 63. I'm now older than my dad when he died from heart disease. And I'm older, much older, than three of my uncles, my dad's brothers, who all died from heart disease.

Whether or not I'll make 64 is an open question. I feel quite confident that I will but it is certainly no longer the sure thing that it seemed just weeks ago. In the past month or so, I have suffered a bout of V-tach and a TIA event causing temporary blindness in my left eye.

I'm now on a beta-blocker for the heart and Plavix to thin my blood to prevent another TIA event. My blood pressure last night was 89 over 48 with a pulse of 43. My beta seems well blocked.

Now, about that Laura Nyro concert and my lingering connection to that night. I took a young date to the then young singer's concert. We drove to the hall in my then young Morgan roadster. I lost track of that young lady years ago but I still have the aging Morgan. We've grown old together. We've both had valve jobs, we've both had work done on our pumps, and on our electrical systems too. And we both just keep going and going and going.

I don't kid myself, I won't go on forever. But I'm not going to wait to die before recognizing and honouring the "one child born"; I can see that baby and enjoy her right now: Fiona. My little, bubbly granddaughter brings the light of youth into my life. She opens a window into a world where hips don't ache and knees don't buckle, where every day is better than the last, where growth, daily improvement, is the expectation and not the exception.

The words of Nyro's song, written in her youth, didn't seem so poignant when I was young. Yes, I "don't want to die uneasy, just let me go naturally."

And When I Die

And when I die and when I'm dead, dead and gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

I'm not scared of dying and I don't really care.
If it's peace you find in dying, well, then let the time be near.
If it's peace you find in dying, when dying time is here,
just bundle up my coffin cause it's cold way down there,
I hear that's it's cold way down there, yeah, crazy cold way down there.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on.

My troubles are many, they're as deep as a well.
I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell.
Swear there ain't no heaven and pray there ain't no hell,
but I'll never know by living, only my dying will tell,
only my dying will tell, yeah, only my dying will tell.
And when I die and when I'm gone,
there'll be one child born and a world to carry on, to carry on. 

Give me my freedom for as long as I be. All I ask of living is to have no chains on me.
All I ask of living is to have no chains on me,
and all I ask of dying is to go naturally, only want to go naturally.
Don't want to go by the devil, don't want to go by the demon,
don't want to go by Satan, don't want to die uneasy, just let me go naturally.
And when I die and when I'm gone, there'll be one child born, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born. When I die, there'll be one child born.
When I die, there'll be one child born. When I die, there'll be one child born.



A companion piece to the above is a post I did last January. It, too, features Fiona. If you have the time and the inclination, check What Is Happiness?

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