Before she was gathered to the bosom of Abraham, our sainted mother had established a birthday-recognition tradition. The happy child received a card with an enclosure. The enclosure was a check.
If you opened your card carelessly, the check would flutter to the floor. So, early on, one learned to open birthday cards warily.
Our sisters continue the tradition to this day, though they don’t include checks. They include ornate prayer cards called “spiritual bouquets.” You have to be raised Catholic to understand, but a “spiritual bouquet” is like a gift card backed not by money or store credit but prayers. Ten Hail Marys. Five rosaries. That sort of thing, all accruing to your eternal benefit and redeemable in the after world for time off in Purgatory. Seriously.
Now, frankly, we are reasonably certain none or our four sisters can remember all the words to the Hail Mary. As far as finding a rosary in any of their homes, you’d be more likely to find Elvis.
But they keep sending and we keep opening (though not so warily) and it’s all very nice, though not as nice as when Mom was around. She took a lot of things with her to the grave, the checkbook among them.
Anyway, imagine our delight when — in the mail on the occasion of a special birthday — we received an envelope with a truly worthy enclosure: our Medicare card. It came with the following message: “Your Medicare Part A starts October 2014. Part B starts November 2014.”
We’d made it! Coverage so complete it makes you want to go out and break something. It was time to celebrate. But how? Suddenly, and for reasons we cannot explain, our idea of a good time is Bingo. Or maybe 30 minutes of “The Lawrence Welk Show.” Or maybe a great, big glass of wine.
But wait. Now that we’ve attained three score and five, should we be switching to Ovaltine? No. The good news is that oodles of studies say wine consumption among people of mature years reduces cardiovascular deaths, lowers bad cholesterol (while raising the good), aids in the recovery from stenting, increases survival after a myocardial infarction, lowers the risk of kidney cancer, reduces the risk of osteoporosis and on and on they go.
The negative effects also have generated reams of reports. All of them are quite sobering, so we didn’t ready any of those. Instead, we celebrated with Starmont 2007 Merlot from Napa Valley. It’s about perfect: black cherry, plum and a touch of oak. Dark and smooth. We found it at John Edwards on sale for $8.95.
Full disclosure: it was in the close-out bin. It won’t be around for long. Come to think of it, neither will we.