Category Archives: Life Changes After a Heart Attack

Snow Fight

IMG_2350It snowed finally.  A little late but it’s here and it’s beautiful.

I was thinking about you today — thought I’d write.  I’ve no reason to share with you, really, being that I do not know much about your life.  Only what I imagine of your life — that’s all I have to go on.

I imagine it’s winter where you are, cold, icy.  I imagine that like me, you have to shovel the stuff and it might make you think about the days when you had time to ski. Now skiing is in our heads, something we wonder if we’d have to relearn if we were to ever enjoy it again.  We. There is no “we,” but I like to write it anyway.

Today, I went over and secretly shoveled my dad’s driveway after shoveling mine.  The neighbor saw me and came over with his snow blower.  Dad hustled out of the house when he heard the blower, that’s how he knew I was there.  It embarrasses him, I think, to accept help when he feels perfectly healthy.  ( One little problem with not remembering ONE damned thing about having a heart attack; he still thinks he’s invincible.) Still, he went up to his neighbor, thanked him and told him “I can do it!”  He glanced at me and then added, “I tell her, but she won’t listen.”  He shook the guy’s hand, thanked him again.  I kept shoveling as they talked for a moment.  I could see by the way my dad shook hands and by the way he patted the neighbor on the back — a firm pat, that he refuses to let age get the best of him.  Not even a heart attack will stop him.  He is that determined.  He’s a man.  All that is good about the race of men, that’s who and what my dad is.  Maybe it’s a rare thing —  but he’s one of those guys who thinks the way John McClane* would.  I’d like to believe it is an acquired attitude, something learned over time.  It’s a form of grace.

So I am back here now, trying to get my external player to load up some stuff on my computer before hitting the keys hard.  I have 15 days to finish a screenplay.  Which means I should not spend time writing here or to you.

But I needed to note,  if to no one — not even you, that I’ve held true with my promise to myself.  To cut the distractions and conversations with people who bring me down from my focus and goal.   I am first on the list this year.   If I save myself, I can save others – just like on an airplane.  I am going to fix this thing, this “situation” we’re in (the kids and me).  I promised Nora.   If I don’t succeed, then clearly I will die trying.  Like my dad, I vow to be that determined.  And like my Dad, I believe I will need God’s help to pull it off.  As long as I don’t quit, I’ve got a chance.  My dad is living proof.


* John McClane, the character from the DIE HARD films, played by Bruce Willis, who, incidentally has similar features to my father.  It’s the Italian in them.




All frickin’ day, I sat on my ass reading scripts and writing.  I got up only to eat chips, make coffee, mix a drink, cook for my kids and wash an occasional dish or two while I listened — at least four times today —  to the disconcerting sound of sirens in the distance.

It was a beautiful day, or so the kids told me.  A very strange January.  Very little snow, but we’ve been left with a giant frozen pond in the horse pasture that my kids (wearing sneakers) skated upon, while I sat indoors, at my desk, on my ass.

I’d never noticed before how often sirens go off in my surrounding area.  I hear them as they whirl down the main four lane road, which is diagonally to the east of us as they hurry from the hospital or the fire department.  I hear them if they go down the street behind the pasture, behind our house. Obviously, I can hear them and see them if they drive right by our house.

But now, each time a siren wails past my house, I call my parents who live a short distance down the street from the kids and me. If I don’t get to the phone in time, my youngest (eight-years-old) will.

It’s ridiculous, but we do it anyway:

“Hi Grandma, we were just wondering if you and Grandpa are okay,” my daughter will say as I cook dinner or as I swipe medicine into the ear of my epileptic cat.  I wait to hear my mother’s laugh on the other end and to hear her say, “We’re fine. Don’t worry!”

What is ridiculous is that we did this before my father fell (that’s what I choose to call it now; “the day he fell.”  Not the day he had a heart attack.  I don’t like the sound of the words).  But in the past, before my father fell,  if an ambulance or fire engine drove past our house, I would occasionally call my folks and make sure everything was alright.  It always was.  It was an excuse to call, really, and say “Hello.  Just thinking of you,” to my mother.  I don’t take it for granted.  Over 8 years ago she was diagnosed with breast cancer, yet has been in remission since her “cure.”  I don’t know the technical, medical terms.  I don’t want to know them.  What I know is that she is fine.  She is healthy, well and relatively happy.  Her treatment and recovery was a miracle then. Had you heard the surgeon, with her worried, concerned face, how she described the tumor she removed, you’d know. My reaction was then as it is now to cry and pray louder and longer than the messenger of bad news.  Regardless, the point is, her remission, her life is a miracle and a blessing. I don’t discount it.

But again, what is ridiculous:  Since that day he fell, I also found out I am the person they call after they call the ambulance.  So I would know anyway.  I would know before I heard the sirens.  I don’t need to call them. I could, if I wanted, ignore the sirens.  It’s just superstition at this point.


I hear one.

I wait to hear which way it turns. No, it’s behind the pasture, on 7th street, not mine.  I hear it moving further away.  Someone’s tragedy or miracle to be.  Today.

I don’t have to call, though I think I will.  Just to hear, “Hello?  Yes, we’re fine. Everything is fine.”

It’s music now.

Hospital Room

View from my chair:

Nurse: Hi, I’ll be your nurse this evening. My name is Jen.

Dad: Good for you.

Nurse:  Do you mind if I take a listen to your heart here?  She prepares the stethoscope.

Dad:  Oh Sure, everybody else does.