My father’s death was the envy of all his friends. He hit a perfect drive off the eighth tee one spring morning and fell over dead of a heart attack. He was 73 and had never spent a day in the hospital. I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of so-called procedures he ever had to endure. Of course, given the outcome, we all might have been better off if he had submitted to a few more of them after that day of nausea a few months before his death. Dad’s doctor decided it had been a teeny-tiny heart attack.
I might give the same advice to myself. After all, ever since my father’s death I have known perfectly well the number of the truck that is fated to hit me. All through the generations on both sides of my family, as far as I know, it’s been heart attacks and strokes. A legacy, no doubt of Norwegian genetics and a love for cookies and butter. My dad was the only person I ever knew who buttered his chocolate chip cookies. Dad wasn’t afraid of doctors, just impatient with bureaucracy and suspicious of anything he could characterize as “rigmarole.”