One of the things I promised myself I would never say — because it was so utterly shocking — was the oft uttered admonishment of most parents: “Because I said so.” After what, at the time, seemed like hours of explanations, reasoned debate and cajoling to convince my child to either do or not do something she was doing, I ultimately (I’m ashamed to say) decided to wrap up the drama with a simple, “Because I said so.” Fair? Not fair? Not an issue at that moment.
|“Because I said so. . .”|
I’m sure I could conjure up many more examples of promises I’ve made to myself, and have broken along the way — the diets, the ambitious plans for organisation, the closet purges and on and on. However, there is one promise I remember making when I was young. As most everything we do before we find out life tends to be more complicated than we expected, this one was easy at the time. It was: “When I’m older I am never, never ever going to talk about my health unless it’s to say, ‘I’m very well, thank you’.”
You know where I’m going with this. . . I was having lunch recently with some French girlfriends and as what seems to be inevitable lately, everyone launched into stories about her aches and pains. One even regaled us with a recent top-speed race to the emergency room in an ambulance because she and her husband thought she was having a heart attack. She wasn’t.
I then looked up from my salad and asked my friends if they ever made that same promise to themselves I had made decades ago. Everyone stopped talking and we all burst out laughing. One friend pointed out that she and her husband were at a dinner party over the holidays and the entire conversation, moving around the table, was about everyone’s health problems even rattling off the names of their medications. “I’ve never been so bored in my entire life,” she said.
I have another friend who many years ago told me that she decided when she was an old lady she would spend every day smiling. “I want my family and friends to wish to see me,” she said. “I don’t want to be an obligation. My goal is to be a pleasure to visit, not one of those ever-complaining, cranky old people.”
We’re not there yet I realize, but I do intend with renewed resolve not to say anything beyond: “Very well, thank you,” when asked how I’m feeling. It’s the truth after all.