Tuesday, January 17, 2023

A Game of Chance and Choices


I went to the casino with my 95-year-old mother and my aunt. I hadn’t been to “the boat” for about  four years. My mother paused her casino visits during the height of the pandemic, but once things settled down some, she resumed her favorite pastime.

My mom and I neither one have any illusions that we are going to hit the jackpot. We just take modest amounts of cash that we are willing to spend on the entertainment value.

Life, like gambling, is a game of chance and choices. We press the “spin” button and hope that everything lines up to move us forward with a win. If instead of winning, we rack up losses, it becomes a choice to know when to walk away and try something different.

Chance and choices played a big part in my marriage to Jim. The way I met him was a combination of chance and choices. By chance, I met Jim’s uncle on one of our Saturday visits to town. His uncle chose to bring Jim with him the next weekend to meet me. If it wasn’t love at first sight, it was darn close to it.

I was a student in college and Jim was in Vietnam. Neither of us had any money, but Jim obtained permission to take R&R in Hawaii so we could get married. Gambling, or the roll of the dice, was how Jim made the money to buy my plane ticket to Hawaii and to pay the expenses for our stay. He often liked to say he won me in a crap game.

Chance is often the difference between health and illness. We all know healthy people who are struck down by a terrible disease—cancer, Alzheimer’s, heart disease, autoimmune disease, diabetes, arthritis, and an endless list of other chronic diseases. Sometimes, choices tip the scales for some. Throughout the decades of our lives, we all acquire bad habits that increase our chances of developing certain conditions.

We used to think that tanned people looked healthier, smoking was cool, certain drugs were not addictive, sports injuries weren’t serious, and what harm could come from eating junk food. Choices turned into habits and chance (or genetics) often determined whether our lifelong habits would come back to haunt us when we were older.

I’ve found that my medical conditions just keep piling on top of each other. Each year, I’ve had to add more pills to my arsenal of prescription drugs. Although recently, my family physician discovered a new condition and nixed one of the medications my rheumatologist prescribed. Getting old isn’t for sissies. No pain, no gain, takes on a scary connotation.

 One of the most distressing aspects of my current health situation is being exhausted most of the time. I was always a self-motivated, high-energy person who never napped. I wonder how I used to work ten-hour days and then spend an additional two hours tending to Jim. Obviously, I was a much younger, healthier version of the person I am today.

Now, after an hour of work, I have to take a break. Taking a break might be lying on the couch napping, reading, or watching TV. Another way to relax is to play my ukulele and practice for the family band nursing home gigs. I like to work on songs I know and new songs I’d like to learn. It’s hard to think about pain and getting old when you’re enjoying yourself.

I am happy that my mom enjoys life and is still in good enough health to play music with the family band. Soon, we’ll have the best of both worlds when we celebrate her 96th birthday on the same day we play music at the nursing home in our hometown.

Chance gives us adversity, but we choose whether we prevail in spite of them. My choice is to follow my mom’s example and do that which brings me joy.


Copyright © January 2023 by L.S. Fisher


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