An ambulance has been at the same home three times this month – a neighbor I do not know. It is a sobering thought that any day could be that day!

It is funny how things flow in and out of our brains. Some days you might get a lyric in your brain that refuses to leave. Another day, a line from a movie might be every present – “I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse.” Or “Here’s looking at you, kid.” “May the Force be with you” is one that has come and gone. Even one of the favorites that I use periodically, “I’ll be back!”

Today, we were leaving a hospital, and a movie lyric caught my mind and hung there for most of the day. “Today is a good day to die!” was said by a Cherokee Indian Chief in the movie Little Big Man, from 1970. I remember Dustin Hoffman and Faye Dunaway and no one else from the film. But I remember the quote, “Today is a good day to die!”

I did a little research before writing today. The phrase is usually attributed to Oglala Lakota’s chief Crazy Horse. However, an edition of the Leavenworth Times ascribes the saying to Oglala Lakota chief Low Dog who lived during the same time as Crazy Horse. Additionally, Wikipedia states that Cherokee Indians would shout this just before charging into battle.

The expression means that we should always be ready to die on any given day. We should not only be ready but prepared to die without regrets. This concept is a bit foreign to many of us. We are not prepared to die on any day. Our lives are not structured for that extreme unknown. We always have plans for this or that in the future. We may not have the finances available for our loved ones. We may not be in the state of grace to earn our eternal reward. There are a lot of reasons why we are never ready to die.

However, a corollary to dying is ending up in the hospital. Other than an accident, most people end up in a hospital due to some disease. Two weeks ago, we had invited two of our neighbors to dinner. The night before the dinner, I got a call from the husband telling us that they were on the way to the hospital.

We have been visiting them nearly every day. After numerous tests and a biopsy, the doctors still do not know what is causing his wife pain and suffering. With luck, they will know next week, and she will be transferred to a rehab facility for four to six weeks. It seems so strange that this happened so quickly. Healthy and vibrant and almost two weeks in a hospital bed. Her husband has spent every hour with her – away from home and their pets. We have been taking good care of them and their home.

We evolve into habits of exercise (or physical inactivity), eating (health and unhealthy foods), stress (management or mismanagement of it), toxins (accumulating them or not). And many other practices daily. Most of us do not know what causes this disease or another, yet we continue each day along a path that may very well end up in someone else taking care of us.

My father always thought the worst thing that could happen was that he would die. I told him, more than once, having someone change your diaper for years is much worse. Quality of life is crucial as we age. We do not want dependence on others. But, we also want to retain our memories to enjoy those remaining years with the ones we love and cherish.

However, when you do not know what causes aging, how do you know if you are doing five things right and ten things wrong. You do not! When you choose to eat the same foods week after week, do you know if those foods will create a problem – chronic heart disease, diabetes, cancer, etc.? Generally, we do not know, yet many sources can provide that awareness and information.

As I think about our neighbor in the hospital, I am sometimes curious about what people knew and decided to keep doing. Of course, smoking, alcohol abuse, drug abuse, obesity, etc., create health problems. But, it is not until something life-threatening happens that we might make changes to our lives. Does it require a Significant Emotional Event in our lives, as Dr. Morris Massey preaches? Probably!

Why wait for that significant life-threatening event? Instead, why not make the changes needed so that when life continues, not engaging in battle, that we are ready to die, worst-case scenario, or better scenario – surviving a short stint in the hospital and then making significant changes to our lifestyle?

Live Longer & Enjoy Life! – Red O’Laughlin –




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