A Weekend To Remember

Few days ago I drove to my outreach clinic which is an hour and a half away. As I mentioned in the past, the drive there is mostly serene and relaxing, going through picturesque rural Iowa landscapes. Unlike the frustrating drive through EDSA being stuck in traffic for an hour and half. It was a beautiful spring day too, with colorful blossoms on the trees lining the highway.

This journey provides me an opportunity to ruminate, I mean to think deeply, not chew the cud like cows here in Iowa. And a chance for some “sound tripping” too. The music album I picked that day for the drive was an album I have not listened to for quite a while. I just added it recently to my iPhone’s music library. It was Jim Chappell’s “Saturday’s Rhapsody.”

While I was cruising down the road and listening to the music, it took me back 25 years ago. To be exact, it was a Saturday night in January of 1993.

I was a fresh graduate from medical school, and I just passed the Philippine Medical Boards. Some of my friends had been harassing (kantiyaw) me for days to take them out to eat as a celebration for my recent board passing. So I told them, perhaps the coming weekend after a church function, we can go out if we wish. A wishy-washy plan.

There was this girl, a friend of a friend, who recently became part of my circle of friends, that I knew it was her birthday that weekend so I brought a gift just in case she’ll show up and join the party.

The gift was a music cassette tape. Remember them? Compact discs were not in vogue yet or they were more expensive than the cassette tape that time. It was Jim Chappell’s album “Saturday Rhapsody.”

Jim Chappell is an American jazz pianist. I’m not really a jazz type-of-guy. I am more of Pinoy folk, rock and country type-of-guy, with favorites like Freddie Aguilar, Asin and Eraserheads. But when I’m studying, I avoid those songs, as I would break out in a song which will be disruptive. So I gravitate to instrumental music or music without words. That’s how I end up listening to jazz music, especially when I was reviewing for my boards.

As I was listening to a smooth jazz radio station in Manila, I heard the music of Jim Chappell, and I got hooked. I bought my first album of his, “Living the Northern Summer.” I love his music so much that I shared this to my friends, as I gave them Chappell’s album as a gift. And that brought me to that particular night in January 1993.

I bought the album “Saturday Rhapsody” as a possible gift. That is if this particular girl would show up that night. If not, I can keep it for myself, for I still don’t have that album anyway.

But the girl showed up.

Darn, I would like to keep that cassette tape for me! Yet it was also a good thing, since it was her birthday, thus it was her blowout too. So she shared on the bill for the restaurant meal for our group, saving me some money.

After seeing the album, this girl thought that the music was kind of “bastos” (lewd), as the picture on the cover of the album was some sort of a naked woman (see photo below). She also thought I was “presko” (fresh or impudent)! But afterwards, when she listened to the album, she found that it was decent music and she liked it. It changed her impression of me too.

SaturdaysRhapsody

We became good friends since then. We even went together to the concert of Jim Chappell when he came to Manila and performed at the Philippines International Convention Center in the summer of 1993.

In the end, the album that I gave away, became mine eventually and I didn’t have to get one for my own, as she and I shared it together. We have been sharing more than just music together for the past 25 years.

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Here’s a sample of one of the songs in that album “Saturday Rhapsody.” This song is “A Weekend to Remember.” It really was.

(*photo from the web, video from YouTube)

 

 

Last Drive

Since I live in the outskirt of the city of greater Des Moines, I travel some distance everyday for work. I drive close to 40 miles a day roundtrip. I don’t mind to drive though, as long as the traffic is moving fast. In reality it only takes me less than 25 minutes one way, which is less than the average time Americans spent going to their workplace. I know if I drive in Metro Manila, that distance I covered will take me an hour or two, plus a lot of cursing.

In addition, as I have written in the past, I go once a month to our satellite clinics (I go to 2 outreach clinics now) which is about an hour and a half drive from our main office. Even though it is about 80 miles away, the travel is easy with open highways that goes through scenic rural Iowa of rolling hills of farmlands and prairies. In fact I even consider the drive relaxing (read previous post “Zen Driving”).

For the past several years I have made this journey alone, except for my thoughts, the radio playing the music I picked for that day, and my trusted car. The other day, I made that same journey again. But somehow, something was different.

It was my last drive on this trip with my “old” car.

My car is getting old. Like dogs, 1 car year is probably comparable to 7 human years, especially if you drive it a lot. I have read in car reviews that the average life span of a car is about 10 – 13  years or about 150,000 miles. Though there are cars that still runs good even after 200,000 miles.

My car is 10 years old and approaching 150,000 miles. It may be considered already a grandma in car years, though it still runs well, however it’s getting expensive to maintain. Not too long ago, I have to change some parts that costs a hefty sum, that I wondered if its worth spending that amount. I surely would not like to spend more than its remaining trade value.

Thus I decided that its time for it to go.

But on our last trip together, I let it run wild. Instead of zen driving I transitioned to rallye driving. I shifted to sports gear all the way, and I let its engine revved as we climb hills and raced through open highways, bringing out its racing heritage. My car may be old, yet it still has lots of feistiness remaining in it.

As we were whizzing through open country roads and as I was listening to its engine growl, my car was singing to me its swan song.

img_2864

(*photo with and iPhone)

Vintage Driving

I was scooting from one patient’s room to another in our clinic the other day as it was a busy day for me. Our schedule was full and our clinic was busting at the seams with patients. I think that’s good. Not good that many people are sick, but good in the sense of job security.

Then in one stretch of time in the afternoon, I saw three nonagenarians (person in their 90’s) back to back, to back. They were there for asthma follow-up and regular check-up.

Two patients were both 94-year-old ladies, and one patient was a gentleman who was 93. If you don’t look at their records and peek at their birth dates, you would think they were much younger. Decades younger.

All of them were in remarkable shape despite their advanced age. They will put to shame some of my 40 or 50-year-old patients.

All of them still live independently. All of them were spry and sharp, and were still quite active. And all of them still drive. Not drive their family crazy. But they still drive a car! In my opinion, there’s no reason why they cannot.

I know that driving nowadays is getting easier and easier. With most of our cars with automatic transmission, it does not take a lot of skill to drive a car. And now with our advancing technology, there are “smart” cars that will automatically stop and avoid collision, or keep you in lane, or adjust your distance to the cars in front of you, or warn you of your blind spot, or cars that even park itself.

I know not very long from now, we will have self-driving cars, which are already being tested, cruising in all our highways. Then driving ability and skill will not even be necessary.

But still having a very old person at the back of a steering wheel can be a scary thought. If you think about a frail 90-year-old lady with failing eyesight, very poor reflexes and perhaps lapsing memory too, barreling down the road in a big Buick, and you’re in the crossroad, and you wonder if old grandma will be oriented enough to release her foot off the gas and step on the brake.  Will she be able to stop in time not to run you over?

elderly-drivers

(picture from classbrain.com)

Back to my patients, out of curiosity I asked one of my 94-year-old lady patient what kind of car she drives. A vintage automobile perhaps?

She told me proudly that she drives a bright yellow, German-made, convertible with an accompanying vanity plate. I bet you with a car like that she does not drive slow like a grandma.

Great grandma was still driving in style!

When I came to examine the other 94-year-old lady, I was more than curious to ask what car she drives. As a jest I asked her if she also drives a convertible? Her answer blew me away.

She told me that she used to drive a convertible until 2 years ago, but traded it for a more subdued style of car. She does not care about convertible anymore as it just messes her hair.

Yet she said that she cannot give up though the type of car that she was used to drive, all these years. So even though it was not a convertible, it was still this kind. What kind?

She still drives a stick shift! Ageless indeed.

 

 

 

Zen Driving

Two days ago I drove down to Osceola, Iowa, to see patients in one of our satellite clinics. It is once every 2 months, that I go there.  I started doing outreach clinic when I began my practice here in Des Moines, when my schedule was not that busy yet.

Now that I am very busy, with my clinic appointments bursting in the seams, I still kept my outreach clinic for two reasons. First, I cannot find a more grateful group of patients, especially the more elderly that cannot drive far anymore. They are very appreciative that we come to them, and save them the trouble of driving to Des Moines. Second reason, I really don’t mind the drive, in fact I even enjoyed it (except when there is a snowstorm or icestorm). And I use this roadtrip as a break from my routine daily schedule.

Osceola is a small town, about 50 miles south of Des Moines, which takes me less than an hour to drive to. It is very accessible as it is a straight shot from Interstate-35, and involves no traffic at all. The scenery along the way is also pleasant, with its typical Iowa landscape: rolling hills of prairies with their colorful wild flowers, interspersed with vast cornfields and soybean fields. There are ranches too with cattle and horses grazing in the meadows, with farmhouses, barns, and silos.

typical iowa landscape

The best part of the drive though is the quiet time I have all by myself. I would just pick a CD to listen to, and I’ll be in a Zen-like state. I can choose to play The Eagles, America or Bread, and I’ll be back in time of my highschool days. Or I can pick a more recent one, like one of the albums of Norah Jones (which I have a complete set) and I’ll be lost in a dream listening to her soothing smokey voice.

For about 45 minutes, I was lost in time and space, while my car traveled at 75 miles an hour (no, that’s not speeding), and while the Eraserheads (my pick of the day) was playing loudly in my radio…….”Magda-drive ako hanggang buwan”.