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Emails to my Therapist

New Year’s Theme, “Ode to Joy”

emergency room

Dear Nicholas, The New Year got off to an unusual start for Bob and me: an Emergency Room trip, but one that quickly turned out well. After about five hours, they sent us home–and, appropriately, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with its “Ode to Joy” played on the radio for most of the drive.

New Year's theme

What Happened

A blister on Bob’s foot got an infection that started to travel up his leg. His doc came into his office on this holiday to check it out, then sent us to the ER for X-ray to be sure it hadn’t spread into his bones. As we waited for test results, Bob wryly wondered which U.S. president it was whose son famously died of a blister on his toe. (Calvin Coolidge.)

Bob’s infection, we learned, had not spread to his blood or bones. All was well, or would be in a few days/weeks with crutches/walker. To quote Schiller’s opening line to “Ode to Joy”

Freude, schöner Götterfunken, or Joy, beautiful spark of the gods….

It was just the right note–the right set of notes–to start the new year: the music, the crisis averted, and the stop at a Bojangles on the way home for a welcome taste of quietly joyful ordinariness.

What to Do With 2018

As I write this, it’s still January 1. Haven’t made any resolutions.

The group of alternative religionists I’ve met for lunch once a month for many years has a tradition of New Year’s themes. We call our gathering Mystic Pizza, though we eat at the K&W cafeteria. The theme I chose last month for this coming year is health. I was thinking then about my own recent minor complaints –a few frayed tendons, a wee skin cancer, etc.–with the hope and intention of warding off more medical problems small or large.

This seemed a good idea as I’m veering ever closer to the verging-on-serious age of seventy, being only a week now from the borderline age of sixty-nine.

The Bigger Picture

Of course, I’d like to expand my plan for supreme good health to Bob and to all my loved ones and to the baby screaming in the ER as we left there tonight. But there are limits to what I can do along those lines. Maybe my best shot is to vigorously wish all a happy and healthy New Year. I do want that for all of us.

So you be sure to stay healthy, okay?





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  • Kenju
    January 2, 2018 at 6:40 am Reply

    I’ll try to do my best – at least I hope I will. Happy New Year and I’m glad the infection had not spread!!

    • Peggy Payne
      January 2, 2018 at 2:41 pm Reply

      Thanks, Kenju. I hope and expect you will too.

  • Gail Waters
    January 2, 2018 at 7:45 pm Reply

    So glad Bob is ok. Isn’t is interesting how our wishes and goals as we age tend toward staying in good health rather than lofty aspirations. So here are wishes for a non eventful health year ahead for both of you

    • Peggy Payne
      January 2, 2018 at 9:12 pm Reply

      Thank you, Gail. Same to you. (And I fear I haven’t let go of my lofty aspirations, but it takes good health to stay at it.)

    • January 17, 2018 at 9:40 pm Reply

      Thanks Gail, I remember you fondly, bob

  • January 17, 2018 at 10:33 pm Reply

    When I first saw/heard this New Year’s post , to my surprise, i cried loudly and long. i’ve always loved the magnificence of the music and lyrics, but reading of and remembering my 3 hospitalizations, the first so threatening, long and hard of recovery, I expect there an unconscious rush of release and relief and joy at being alive was accessed by hearing the Ninth again.
    Thanks, Peggy, for again helping me to get in touch with my deeper feelings.

    • Peggy Payne
      January 17, 2018 at 10:35 pm Reply

      Always happy to, Bob. I’m glad you’re alive.

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