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Die With Your Boots On!

John Summers is a good ol boy. Born in Tennessee, John was raised on hard work, meat and potatoes. So as John began building a concrete business in Muncie, Indiana, it was no surprise to anyone that knew him that it was a huge success. Until the age of 62, John worked every day, managing his concrete business and helping his employees set the forms and work the concrete, John was a “working owner”. Once evening, about 2 months after John’s 62nd birthday, he began having chest pains and thus he drove himself to the hospital. Along the way he stopped and asked one of Muncie’s finest for some help but was told “I’m not an ambulance?”, so John proceeded until he reached his final destination, Ball Memorial Hospital. When John was checked in, the prognosis was grim; the Doctors didn’t think he would make it through the night. However, John did make it though the night, but his heart took a beating. When the attack had finished, the doctors estimated that he had lost 80% usage of his heart, but John was still alive determined to get back to work and that is where this story begins.

When John was released from the hospital, he could barely walk. After 62 years of not even a cold, this robust “superman” was confined to a bed, only able to get up to use the bathroom. Soon, John’s body began to recover and he began to be able to get back to his normal life, helping his wife Betty around the house, visit his office, and manage his employees. But, the fact that John could no longer “work” was driving him crazy so after 43 years in the concrete businesses, John decided to sell his company to some of his employees. After the sale, John took a few weeks to relax; he could finally settle down and enjoy life. It was during this time that John began to notice that his back was hurting a little. Well actually, John’s back was killing him, 43 years of working with concrete will take a toll on ones back and so as soon as his strength returned, John was back in the hospital for major back surgery. The surgery was a success and John again found himself at home recuperating. Again, Johns body began to recover and John got a cane to help him walk around the house, go to the doctor, just help him get around. One day while getting off the couch, John felt a slight pressure in his stomach. During his next trip to the doctor the doctor informed him that he had developed a hernia and it was going to require surgery. Over the next 6 months, John found himself back in the hospital 2 more time, once for the hernia and the next for a knee. Johns knees had been fine for 63 years, but since the rest of his body was going to hell, it appeared his knees had a meeting and agreed one of them would “go out” so they wouldn’t be left out of all the fun.

John, now 64, is “fully” recovered from all his surgeries. He begins an exercise program that includes light weight training, walking every other day, minor medication, John is feeling GREAT. He begins working on his rental properties, mowing the yard, helping Betty with the groceries. John’s next visit with his doctor was scheduled for next week and so John decided that he would take some time and ask the doctor a few questions. He entered the doctor’s office that next week feeling great, he had not felt this type of strength for months. As the doctor began his examination, John said Doc, can I ask you a few questions. The doctor smiled and said, sure John. John began with this list, “Doc, can I mow the yard?” Doc replied no John. Ok, but can I work on my rental properties? No John was the response. Doc, can I help Betty with the groceries, you know carry them in once she gets in? At this point, the doctor looks John dead in the eye and said “John, you have the same Damn heart you had the day you walked out of the hospital. If you continue doing these things I know you are doing you’re going to die of a heart attack. Now, I am aware you have many grand children. Why don’t you go home, take off your shoes and relax. Watch TV, take it easy, hire all those jobs out that you should not do and enjoy the next 20 years of life?” John smiled and left to go home thanking the doctor for his advice. When he got home, Betty asked John, “Honey, what did the doctor say?” John replied, the doctor said it was time for me to decide weather I wanted to die with my boots on or my boots off. John continued, “Honey, do you remember that movie Shawshank Redemption?” There was a part of that movie where one of the characters looks at the other characters and says “you know there is a time in ones life when we all have to decide weather we are going to get busy living or get busy dying.” I’ve been thinking about that and I’ve decided I’m going to get busy living and make darn sure I die with my boots on. John wakes every day, completes his 2 mile walk before leaving to work at his rentals, mow a yard, or help Betty with the groceries. John might live 2 days or 20 years, but when it’s John’s time, he’ll have his boots on!

Author’s note: I wrote this years ago, John has now passed. John passed a couple of years ago and yes, he was wearing his boots.