by Elouise

In waiting rooms these days I find more than enough time to ponder imponderables such as “Scintillating.” That was the Word for the Day in one of four waiting rooms I visited this past week. It was emblazoned on a sign at the front desk, large as life, next to the attendant.

“And how are you this morning, Mrs Fraser?”
— or Elouise, depending on the depth of our waiting room acquaintance.

I ponder for a heartbeat.
Does she really want to know?

“I’m scintillating, thank you!
And how are you this morning?”

Seriously, it felt good to laugh out loud with her in the waiting room. There’s always something in the air—pain, anxiety, fear, impatience, pride, anguish or anger. Often compounded by heavy silence, preoccupation with cell phones, and very little laughter. Especially the kind that won’t be tamed.

I confess it’s difficult to be scintillating most days, though I love the rare high of being found brilliant, exciting, exhilarating or would you believe dazzling?

Yet now, more than ever, I want to find scintillating. Not just once in a long while, but regularly and even in a matter of fact way. Not manufactured, but stumbled upon, discovered like a gem in the midst of a steaming heap of food I don’t like.

Growing old is one thing. We take it as a matter of pride—as well we might, given all the bullets we dodged just to reach this number on our life calendars.

But what about all those surprises that go with growing old? The kind that keep us going back to the doctor’s office or physical therapy centers seeking eternal renewal if not recovery?

I know it’s not considered good form to jabber on about one’s illnesses. But isn’t that part of the problem? Here I am in my mid-70s, with few people in my life willing to tell me what’s happening in their bodies.

When I was growing up, it was important not to focus on the severity of illness. This was considered a matter of privacy, or even shame. We wanted to be seen as normal, healthy, or healed. To some, illness meant God was punishing you, or that you didn’t have enough faith. Abnormal physical health meant abnormal spiritual health.

Well, my normal flew out the window a while ago, and life is serving up a plate of food I don’t like and can’t ignore. It’s shaping the contours of every day of my life, and refuses to be polite or retiring. Better to let this become a series of mysterious, dazzling, perhaps scintillating gifts I have yet to unwrap.

Not because they aren’t serious, but because of what they offer. An opportunity to join this human race in ways that are as strange to me as they are to others. Capable of offering unexpected insights and surprising connections with others, if not scintillating health.

Here’s to your health and mine!

©Elouise Renich Fraser, 21 April 2018
Photo found at