There was a family, the Greens, that lived in our neighborhood, when I was a child, who had a daughter my age named Rachel. I liked to go to their house because it was very different from my own. Mrs. Green was a stay-at-home mom, unlike my own mother who was often preoccupied with her work. She baked her own bread and cookies, sometimes allowing us to assist. I remember sitting around their dining room table with Rachel and her younger brother Michael, and some other children who lived nearby, cutting out scraps of colored paper and magazines to make collages. Mrs. Green always had a new craft project to keep us busy and an unending supply of paste, scissors, and colored paper.
No one could visit their house if they had the slightest sign of a sniffle. I remember being turned away at the door more than once because I coughed or had a runny nose and feeling very disappointed. But then I didn’t know that Michael had been born with a birth defect to his heart, which at that time could not be surgically repaired until he reached the age of 12. His parents lived in fear that if he were to get a cold that developed into influenza or pneumonia, he might not recover. No wonder I never saw him playing outside in the snow.
How many people do we know, or meet each day of our lives, that have chronic illnesses or are fighting a deadly disease? How fearful Rachel’s mother must have been, worrying all those years about her son. No wonder she thought up all those projects to keep her children busy, she wanted to keep them in the house and to enter the outside world as little as possible.
Unless our neighbors, friends, and colleagues tell us about their struggles and challenges, we assume they are fine. There isn’t always an ultra short haircut, crutches, or an oxygen tank to provide us with clues that everything is not okay. While many people seem to relish sharing the details of their doctor’s visits and various surgeries, others prefer keeping that information private. Talking about painful experiences often reopens old emotional wounds.
It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves that good health is a gift, something to be honored and treasured. So it’s important to enjoy each and every day as it arrives. Years later I learned my childhood neighbor did have his long awaited surgery, it was successful and today he lives a full and productive life.
The September print issue of Chesapeake Taste Magazine had the theme, “Here’s to your health” and we packed it full of stories about people living life to the fullest—from legendary saxophone player Del Pushert still going strong performing at age 78 to our contributing writer Vicki Meade learning how to pole dance. While the print copies are pretty much gone, you can still read it all online by visiting http://www.Chesapeaketaste.com. You can also stay in touch with all things Annapolis by reading my blog Annapolis Taste. Thanks for reading.