“Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more,” he said as I went back in to retrieve the fractured root that necessitated the removal of his tooth and fabrication of a three-unit bridge. An unfortunate turn of events, but one taken in stride by my 88-year-old patient, a retired army colonel who served through several wars, beginning with WWII, and has seen his share of things not going as planned.
Many would have said—have said—“I’m too old to spend this time—this money—on fixing this problem. I’m not going to be around too much longer and probably won’t even miss it”.
That thought never even occurred to him. At 88, he exercises regularly, reads a lot, follows current events, and kindly needles everyone he comes into contact with. He’s not done living.
When I questioned him about what the heck he was referring to with the quote—I was a Chemistry major, not an English Lit major—he informed me that it was Henry V’s speech to his fellow Englishmen at the siege of Harfleur—a passage from Shakespeare. Then, he began reciting the speech, word for word, until we both were laughing so hard, he had to stop.
Impressed with his zest for living—not to mention his memory—both my assistant and I had a little extra “pep in our step,” as he might say, for the rest of the day. It’s hard not to after being around a member of the Greatest Generation with so much positive energy.
And so, I’ve found someone to model for the New Year: An octogenarian Renaissance Man who recites Shakespeare.
Hey, if he can live through what he’s lived through and keep on smilin’, maybe I can, too!