(Originally published in 2007)
There was a time when my father was so sure that my wild streak would land me in an emergency room (or worse) that he obsessed over reminding me to carry identification. He wanted to know that someone would notify him when I was unable to call for help.
Others have worried that my smoking, my sunning, my driving, my friends, my mouth, or my fearless attitude would be the end of me. Then, there were those annoying diagnoses, one after another, hanging around my neck, for years, like time bombs. I managed to spite the diagnoses and the odds for over fifty years, with doctors assuring me that I would probably live longer than I want.
This week, my four-year-old granddaughter changed everything. She informed me that my days are numbered. Fourteen to be exact; she predicts I will die in two weeks.
I owe this prognosis not to lung or skin cancer, heart failure, an auto accident, my friends, or any of my proven diagnoses. As so often happens, a most unlikely culprit will claim my life. Darn.
The upside of this is that I will probably make medical history. You will probably see my story on the national news, written up in medical journals, or possibly replacing a Lindsey Lohan story in the tabloids. Your friends might call or e-mail to ask if you heard about me, and to caution you to seek immediate help should you have the same affliction.
Knowing how exciting it is for most people to be first with breaking news, I share this with you now, before the rest of the world gets wind of my situation. I also give my permission if you want to start talking this up before the big guys get the story.
This precious child examined my body in a bathing suit and decided I can’t possibly live this way for long. She tried to keep it a secret, but I overheard her urge her sister to take a peek, followed by, “I think Gramma is going to die in about two weeks.”
I will be the first person to succumb to a terminal case of wrinkled knees.
2015 update: Since I survived those precarious two weeks of wrinkled knees, I also made it through a case of H1N1 with pneumonia and a subarachnoid hemorrhage, among other less serious conditions. And I’ve developed plenty more wrinkles on the knees, as well as my face and neck and – well, every part of me. The elbows, oh, how could I have not listed the elbows first?
That four-year-old is twelve now and convinced I will live forever. I think. But there’s a new three-year-old. Interestingly, she looked at my knees the other day, closed in for a thorough inspection, gave me a sympathetic look, and asked if they hurt. When I said no, they didn’t hurt, she proceeded to ask about each line. Her patience and persistence are impressive.
I’m guessing this seemingly odd concern over knees is actually explainable. Knees are at eye-level to people who are three and four years old. By the same criteria, though, I will have to assume that these girls who face knees daily must know that mine are unusually wrinkled.
Please don’t question my decision to continue wearing shorts and bathing suits. My intention truly is not to frighten or worry little girls.