Grandfather, Grandmother and Friend sailing

INTIMATIONS OF MORTALITY

Aging is interesting.  Like a first pregnancy, it takes us into unfamiliar terrain, prompts new
perspectives and is tinged with both excitement and fear.  Last week I had a cardiac calcium scan, where they look for calcium buildup to gauge the heart risk of high cholesterol.
I got a score of 200.  Yikes!  One website said I have the heart of a 78-year-old.  (I’m 74.). Another site said a score of 200 indicated that, without some change, I would have a stroke or heart attack within the next three to five years.   My doctor just said he wanted to start me on statins.  Interesting…

Several years back a brain scan indicated that my brain was shrinking and had white matter.  

Both scans put me deeply in touch with my mortality.  The idea that my brain is shrinking was particularly disturbing.  I’ve passed whatever apex I’ve aspired to and it’s all downhill from here!  No one who knows me will be surprised. 

I find the heart business comforting.  My family has two natural paths out of this life –
heart attack and cancer.  At age eighty-two, my paternal grandfather had a heart attack while driving in Wilmington and came to a stop against a telephone pole.  No one else was injured.  My father was eighty-five when he got up one morning, poured orange juice for himself and mom, sat down in his chair and died.  If the statins keep me around for ten more years, a heart attack sounds just fine.  

Of course, none of this is known.  At each doctor’s appointment, we work to continue in good health knowing that one day the other shoe will drop.  It is not given to us to know the how or when.  Scans only supply intimations.

When I shared the cardiac scan info with my son, he said, “Mom, you have the heart of a lion.”
How could I not adore this man!

Published by

Cynthia M. Sheward

Cynthia Sheward has written poetry since she was a child. She was born in Massachusetts but spent her young life in New Jersey. She applied her English degree from Arcadia University teaching junior-senior high school in Vermont the 70’s. In the 80s, she and her husband built their own house with their own hands in the mountains of North Carolina. In the 90s, she returned to NJ where she worked for a Fortune 500 corporation until her retirement. Her work has been published in Friends Journal, Evening Street, the Bennington Banner, Fiber Arts Magazine, the Mountain Times and various other print media. She currently resides in Jupiter, Florida.

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