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 Texas : Features : Columns : Letters From North America :
Smelling the Roses
by Peary Perry
Peary Perry
There isnít anything like coming close to death that makes you appreciate living.

These past three weeks have been the toughest I can remember having in my entire life. Like most of us, Iíve had surgeries over the years and have snapped right back in a short period of time. In my earlier days I checked out of the hospital after having my appendix removed and walked to the top of the Astrodome because I had tickets to see Elvis. Those tickets had been hard to come by and I wasnít going to waste them lying in bed at home.

Fortunately for me, these last few years have been relatively quiet and without the need for any surgery of any kind. In spite of being too short for my weight, I manage to stay in fairly good health and donít have to take any medications of any sort on a regular basis. I am very thankful for this.

As I related to you in the past couple of columns, I had a knee operated on nearly a month ago and developed pneumonia a couple of days later. The knee is fine, but I thought I was going to die with the pneumonia. My heart goes out to anyone with lung problems. Thanks to the wonders of new modern antibiotics, I think I am on the mend and will live.

But, you know a strange thing has happened to me over the past couple of weeks. First off Iíve watched way too many old movies and secondly, I find that I cry at the drop of a hat. I canít tell if this is the result of any of these seven medications Iím on, but my wife is beginning to think Iím having a breakdown of some sort when she walks into the room and I start bawling. Whatís wrong with this picture? Am I sick, bored or just glad to be alive?

Perhaps a combination of all three.

Iím not sure if I know what an epiphany actually is or if Iíve had one, but I do know a couple of things have happened to me in the past few weeks. One, I realize how lucky I am to have a wife who cares for me and tries to help. When I see what all she does in a day, it makes me realize how much I take for granted and often forget to express my thanks. Being sick also gives you time to reflect upon the people in your life. My boys are especially good men and Iím proud of them. Iíve had to call each of them and apologize for something I have done dumb in the past in my effort to be a parent. It makes me wish we had a book of some kind to go by when learning how to relate to our kids as they grow up. Parenting is a definite Ďon the jobí learning experience.

Anyway, here I am sitting at my desk at home trying to write something that makes some sense while Iím under the influence of modern medication. A small bird is building a nest in a pot plant just outside my window. Throughout the afternoon, I watch her or him (hard to tell which it is) return time after time every 45 seconds or so with another piece of twig or string to put into place. I pause in what Iím doing and just take the time to watch this miracle of nature. Something Iíve missed or shrugged off for all of these years.

Another indication that Iím not quite right is the fact that the pantry and freezer are in total disarray and I could care less. In previous times, this would drive me nutty. Can you see a pattern of anal behavior here? Now, it bothers me not in the least.

Gimmy cracked corn and I donít care.

Iíve often heard that illnesses and near death experiences make you want to look at life differently from the way you have done so in the past. Iíve got to tell you, I believe what they say. Life is too short to be petty, anal or mean. Like someone said years agoÖíWe must take time to smell the roses.Ē

Truer words were never spoken.
© Peary Perry
Comments go to pperry@austin.rr.com
Letters From North America
- June 22 , 2005 column
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