The very real possibility exists that it is illness that will end me. I have six incurable diseases (diabetes, arthritis, COPD, hypertension, psoriasis, and an enlarged prostate). I am also a cancer survivor (malignant melanoma in 1983). My fragile, diseased body is like a house made of straw, and the Big Bad Wolf came knocking at my door yesterday.
My daughter, the Princess, came home from school yesterday noon with the flu. She moaned and cried and was burning with fever. She vomited on the bathroom floor. Of course, the retired guy who stays home all day is the one who had to tend her and clean up after her. But he is also the one most at risk of dying from the flu or from pneumonia as a side-effect of the flu. I am the son of a registered nurse who worked in the ER and still gives excellent medical advice. I have been taught how to care for the sick with proper precautions. The poor Princess is already feeling better today after the overnight miracle of Theraflu. I am no longer worried for her. Now it is me that is at risk.
I identify myself with the cardinal. Yes, the bird is the mascot of my favorite sports teams. But it is more than that. It is the resolute little bird who doesn’t fly away when the winter comes.. No flying south with the snowbirds when the world is covered in pure, white, cleansing snow. It stays through the ice and cold to watch over its personal territory. But it is not invulnerable to the ravages of winter. Many of its bright red and pugnacious kind succumb finally to old age and the cold, and die in winter. But I have no regrets. If the final winter has come… well, I cannot exactly say I have no regrets, because I have goofed up a lot over rime… but I am satisfied. If my life has to be complete from this moment, then it is a good life, well-lived. And I am satisfied.