Strange Survival Stories

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Her personality was another matter. She rang her call bell frequently and rarely had a kind word for a nurse. She complained about the care, often in a sarcastic way. “Why did you take so long?  Were you making out with that doctor you like?” She never liked the food and frequently sent it back (although perhaps this last was justified.)  But she never whined; her complaints were always given with a strong attitude of “I deserve better.”  I admired her strength, though I always hoped not to be assigned her room.

Jan told me how her oncologist had, four years before, given her six months to live. She reacted to his prognosis with anger, as probably only she could, telling the doc, “I will go to your funeral, you bastard.”

She reported with a satisfied smile that she had, in fact, attended this doctor’s burial just  six months ago, and seemed quite pleased about it. “I had to get a lift van to get me there, but I had promised that jerk,” she said. Although living in constant pain, she was planning to bury a couple more docs.  It gave her something to look forward to.

It’s surprising how powerful such seemingly negative reasons to live can be.  In the mid 90s, I stopped in a coffee shop in Flagstaff Arizona. I was on my way to the Grand Canyon, hoping to find a spiritual lift like Kevin Kline and Danny Glover got in that 1991 movie. And maybe I did find one, in a way.

I sat next to these two guys in uniform, both heavy-set Hispanics who had been Highway Patrolmen for years. One was in his 50s, the other maybe 30. They could have been father and son. I was glad to be seeing them at a café table and not through the window of my car.

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5 Responses to Strange Survival Stories

  1. Great story! I laughed my tuchus off! I’ve heard of this before — being angry enough to take care of yourself, but not written out so nicely.

  2. DJ Woolley says:

    “Do not go gentle into that dark night….”, there’s something to be said for that. Am reminded of stories and anecdotes I’ve come across through the years about people who’s work or accomplishments I admire. Many of these idols are exposed as being somewhere on the spectrum between “difficult” and “Pit Bull”. Consequently, I no longer expect saintliness or Job-like humility from my role models (although it WOULD be nice), but rather have concluded that, given the effects of Murphy’s Law, The Peter Principal, and plain entropy, it may take a Pit Bull to accomplish anything. Or, in some cases, just survive. Life is unfair and death is inevitable – best to meet both head-on.

  3. If revenge is the reason to survive, then be vengeful! Some thing redeeming, like this blog, will come along.

  4. Kimber says:

    My mean old grandfather died at 99 years old. Outlived all my other grandparents. His motivation? The smartest one lives longest. He lived to prove he was smarter than everyone else. Didn’t make for great relationships, but he certainly got a lot of mileage out of it. At 92 he eloped to Vegas with his home care worker. She gave him seven more years. Smart.

  5. Clayton says:

    A lie has no legs.

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