Thursday, May 18, 2006

To My Health.....And Yours

He wakes up at 5:15 every morning, does pushups for forty-five minutes, then runs five, grueling miles while munching on an organic granola bar. After that, he takes a dive into his backyard pool, and does endurance laps until hunger calls him from the water. I can always smell his baked apple, plain yogurt, and bran muffin. He is a man of routine, a man of habit. After breakfast, he rides his bike twenty miles in the heat of the day. His afternoon and evening routines are very similar, though five times more intense.

I would know this because I am his neighbor.

One day I spoke to him over the fence as I pruned my forsythia. He was doing bench presses on the back patio, but put the weights aside when he saw me.

“Hi, Neighbor,” he called, sitting up. I returned the greeting.

“You should really put on a pair of running shoes and hit the road,” he recommended. “You’d be surprised – the wonders it would work on you. You’d not only feel great about yourself – you’d be looking great, living to your fullest potential; what more could you want? Running a simple thirty minutes a day could add ten years to your life!”

If I didn’t previously understand that he was a one-track minded health fanatic, I would have taken offense when he told me that I had the potential to look great.

“And, including a few fresh fruits and whole grains in your daily diet – you’ll be rock climbing when you’re 99!”

“What exactly are you doing all this for?” I asked, avoiding his challenge.

“To increase my life span. Want to live to see my grandchildren marry, that’s what I want.” He nodded happily to confirm his feelings. “Want to feel great my entire life. You know what? Never spent a dime on hospital or doctor bills since I was twenty.”

I nodded with my lips pressed tightly. He knew as well as I did that I’d been released from the hospital four days earlier. Pneumonia, high blood sugar, and a blood clot.

“Worked my entire adult life to have the health and strength I have today. Feel better now than I did at eighteen!” He laughed.

“How are your grandchildren?” I tried to change the subject. What grandfather didn’t want to talk about his grandchildren?

“Doing okay, doing okay. Emilie’s the youngest – turning six on Friday, having a big party; lots of guests and all.”

“So I guess you’ll be gone on Friday. Do you need me to watch your dog?”
No... I guess I won’t be going to the party.”

“Why not?” I couldn’t mask my surprise.

“Can’t interrupt my schedule. Three hours driving each way – waste of time – whole day wasted, actually. Have a full schedule on Friday anyway. It’s my busiest day, you know.”
“Busy with what? Something I could help with? Emilie will be disappointed if you can’t come.”
“Oh I know, I know. No, I appreciate your offer, but it’s just exercising. Friday’s my most intense workout day.”

“I see.” My voice was chilly with disapproval as I bid him good day, and turned to leave. So, he exercises in order to see his grandchildren marry, but he’s too busy exercising to go to their birthday parties. Maybe when the time came, he’d also be too busy exercising to attend their weddings.

Ultimately, I figured it wasn’t any of my business; so, for the rest of the day, I tried to put him out of my mind and work on my crocheting instead.

The months went by, and as my health failed, his only increased. He pushed himself further, higher, faster, better. I could only watch.

Then one day, he pulled out of the driveway and I never saw him again.
Head-on collision, they said.


Anonymous said...

HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA That was great Jenn!

RDT said...

I agree with anon. This totally spoke to me; great story! Totally sympathize with the narrator.

Jenn Joshua said...

Thanks! (Melody are you Anon, or did you not read this yet? BTW, you have a blogger account... :) )

Matt A. said...

I love Peretti! I have not yet been able to see The Visitation, but hope to soon...thanks for the comment!

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