In the book devoted exclusively to his third aortic heart valve replacement surgery in 1982, Lewis Grizzard (LG) gets philosophical and gives his viewpoints on the various stages of life at the age of thirty-five (35).
In “They Tore Out My Heart and Stomped that Sucker Flat” (1982-Peachtree Publishers) he deviates from the chronological history of the diagnosis of the need for another surgery, discussion of alternative surgical treatments, pre-surgery preparation, surgery, and post-operative lifestyle, etc.
In a chapter titled “The Hog and I” LG traces the history of the use of MECHANICAL VALVES verses PORCINE (pig) VALVES.
A lot of medical advancement in this area has transpired since 1982 but viewed from the perspective that LG was facing another major surgery his outlook on the stages of his life at age 35 would not be totally unexpected:
(1) When he was ten (10) he wanted to be sixteen (16) so he could drive a car;
(2) When he was sixteen (16) he wanted to be twenty-one (21) so he could walk into a bar and order a drink;
(3) When he was twenty-one (21) he wanted to be thirty (30) so he could pontificate on the great issues of the day being at the perfect age.
It was that stage in life where he could engage in the grown-up act of investing in a tax shelter while still being young enough to waste your money on a sport.
However, the age of 35 in 1982 confused LG.
He used the analogy of there being “a tendency to commit the grievous error of allowing the mind to write a check the body can’t cash and proceeds to give some outlooks on life in several categories:
1. Drinking – “At thirty-five, you begin to find out all the bad things that are supposed to happen to you if you drink too much you certainly will;”
2. S_ _ - “Thirty-five is the first time you realized you can go six months without it, and it won’t kill you;”
3. Money – “Thirty-five is when you realize even if it did grow on tree, somebody else would probably own all the trees;”
4. Ambition – “By the time you’re thirty-five you are about ready to settle for what you can get;”
5. Love – “Mothers. Their love is the best love;” and
6. Dogs – “To be perfectly honest, I’ve always gotten along better with dogs than with women. Dogs don’t seem to want as much. Come home in the middle of the night and a dog won’t ask you where you’ve been or how much money you’ve spent or why you didn’t call. A dog is satisfied with the fact that you’re there at all.”
Although LG survived the surgery his third marriage didn’t last as long as his latest aortic pig valve as the couple parted ways.
His comedy concern over the pig that would sacrifice their life for the opportunity to give LG up to another ten (10) years of life before having to be replaced again evolved into his rating and criteria for the Best Bar-B-Que in the country.
He also sought an assurance from his surgeons that the “installation of a porcine valve into my heart would have no effect on my taste and desire and enjoyment for good barbecue.”
Showing that even doctors have a sense of humor other physicians on the operating team did point out some other potential problems:
1. “You might want to go out and root for truffles occasionally, one laughed;”
2. Another said. “You might crave watermelon seeds and corncobs;” and
3. The third devotee to the Hippocratic Oath chimed in, “What you really have to watch is every afternoon about four o’clock, you might get the strange desire to go out and make love in the mud.”
(In spite of their warped senses of humor Lewis Grizzard dedicated the book to his seven (7) doctors, hospital reverend, nurses, and a cast of a hundred more in the Cardio-Vascular section of Emory University Hospital).
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You can reach Jerry Summers at firstname.lastname@example.org)