It’s 10:15 p.m. and my youngest and I are trying to figure out what we want/need to satisfy our hunger pangs. We’re leaning towards Roosters Wings and I’m considering a 10-piece order of 5 mild and 5 buffalo flavored.
Then a string of thoughts crosses my mind:
That’s nothing but grease. That’s gonna sit on your stomach all night. That’s gonna give you heartburn. That’s gonna clog your arteries. That’s gonna give you pancreatitis.
I try to convince myself that it’s just one order (well, it’s TEN wings). How much difference will one time make?
And then I think about my father (this is kind of personal, but it’s been so many years that sharing this will do more good than harm, for all of us).
I’ve mentioned before that my father died after a series of strokes.
The first one was the worst.
But what pains me dearly is what happened during his so-called recuperative period.
Living several states away, I wasn’t there to see his day-to-day efforts at Physical Therapy and at home. I do know that he was instructed to maintain a strict diet during this time (actually, permanently) because he also had High Blood Pressure. Sure, he followed it at first, but in time, he began to succumb to his cravings for my mother’s great Alabama cooking.
“Lee (Lenora), why don’t you fix me some ______________?” he would kindly ask.
“But Ken”, she’d answer (almost pleading). “You know you ain’t supposed to have it.”
“Come on, just this once…”
And of course, just as he gave in to his desires, she gave in to her loving husband. She didn’t see the harm in it, I suppose. She loved my father dearly, as he did her. And since it was “just this one time”, I’m sure she thought it was ok. Either that or she hoped that it would indeed be the ONLY time he requested.
It wasn’t. In fact, it happened again.
And again, and again.
Now I might be wrong, but I’m sure that’s what I was told in a conversation that continues to fade from memory, as that was over 25 years ago.
What I also know is that his “one time” infractions, coupled with his decreasing efforts in physical activity, made it even harder for him when he suffered a more crippling stroke later.
Again, I could be wrong about the details and conversations. Yet and still, it’s not necessary to be entirely accurate or even say how that story ended. That should be obvious. But I hope you catch the meaning behind what I’m sharing and where I’m going with all this…
Yeah, I can order those wings… …or I can make myself some salad and get to bed. If I want chicken that badly tomorrow, I can chop up and grill that boneless, skinless chicken breast and add it to tomorrow’s salad for lunch.
I won’t lie, what I DO want is those wings.
But what I DON’T want, is to be in a wheelchair, paralyzed on one side, unable to speak; having to rely on my family, who doesn’t deserve that responsibility. I don’t want to be thinking about today, and all the other days, when it was JUST ONE ORDER.
That’s the worst part: reflecting back on all those times I could and SHOULD have said “no”.
Thinking that today could have made a difference in grand scheme of things.
If you’re still not sure what I’m saying, consider this analogy: You may not notice the wind blowing the minute grains of sand off of a small dirt hill. You may not notice in an hour or a day’s time. But come back later and see how much of it is gone. Erosion. You won’t notice the transition, but before you know it, the scene has changed dramatically and perhaps in some cases, irrevocably. That’s something like the chronic effects of bad eating choices and habits.
I don’t want to look back on today and all the other days and weep silently because today could have made a difference.
It’s 10:48. I’ve stopped typing multiple times to talk to my son about Captain America, Chico (the family dog), what just happened on “The Cleaning Lady” (which I’m watching as I type) and alternatives to his cravings. I told him that I need to go to bed because I’ve got to get up in the morning and gas is too high to be dedicating to something he really doesn’t need, even if he’s only 21.
He wasn’t thrilled, but he understands and he’s supporting me in this.
Just one more?
Today could have made a difference.
Today WILL make a difference.
Today DID make a difference.
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