An Ode to Joy for my Beating Heart

On the Ocassion of my Birthday, I’m grateful For many things: meaningful work, family and friends, sharing a birthday with my mom and son, but no more important than my deep and abiding gratitude to my beating heart.

A heart that started beating 53 years ago and has been on post with no break, no vacation, no mid-life crisis, accepted no better offer, no up-grade…my ride or die chick just ticking, pumping, grinding on my behalf so she can bear witness for my gift of life. Now that’s a reason to celebrate! But don’t think I didn’t “try” her. (a primer for my beloved friends who may not recognize the colloquial use of the word “try.” Imagine you’re 7 and you’re in church and after being warned, you continue to place your feet on the back of the pew in front of you instead of on the floor where they belong and your mama turns to you and say, “oh, you want to try me!” It’s not a question.)

I’ve had over a half century of close calls. There was the time I decided to do a headstand on the front door and someone opened it from the other side and I fell on my neck, then there was the time I forgot to duck a baseball pitch and ended up with a broken nose and two black eyes, lest I forget near the misses when riding in cars and yeah, Trudy Love, my own up-close and personal bully for 3 totureous middle school years (how can someone with the last name Love be so mean, but I digress.)

There were the not so usual heartbreaks: a friend perishes in a fire, another teenager OD’s in our courtyard, still another young adult friend dies of AIDS and later, much later cancer strikes friends and foes alike…my bestie dies when we are both pregnant. There were times when I thought it all to much. My heart disagreed. She thought I protest to much…be grateful she seem to say with every thump: for career, thump; marriage and children, thump; service to others, thump; and time after time, I get in my own way: a cheeseburger, thump; forgoing the long walk, thump; crossing my legs, thump; holding my breath. Thump, thump, she proves herself again and again. I exhale.

A half century later, the old girl needs my help now. We’ve talked. I didn’t know she cussed. I hear her sweet soft whisper, “stop kicking the (blanky-blank) pew in front of you. The ocean is calling. Go deep.”

I didn’t tell her I have but a small boat.

Instead! I joined a gym, and the first thing I did was learn to row.

Thank you dear heart.

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