Just what the doctor ordered

By JONATHAN CHARLES FOX
Posted 12/4/19

As some of you might know, I’ve been a little under the weather lately, and by “lately,” I mean for more than a year. Some days are better than others, but every doctor I see (and …

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Just what the doctor ordered

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As some of you might know, I’ve been a little under the weather lately, and by “lately,” I mean for more than a year. Some days are better than others, but every doctor I see (and there have been a few) agree that the best thing I can do is keep active, keep working, “keep on keepin’ on,” as it were. That said, it’s been a while since I’ve taken a road trip. But when the opportunity arose for me, my precious Cordelia (Cory, now 33) and her mother (of indeterminate age) to spend some quality time together, I said “yes” without hesitation and made plans to drive to Lawrenceville, NJ, a cool little town (IMHO) just outside of Princeton.

Cory has been to the Catskills in the not-too-distant past, but once we started chatting, it became evident that I had not seen her mother, Lucia, since before the dog was born. “Dharma just turned 10 last week,” I hollered when Lucia informed me that the last time we visited was more than a decade ago. “Oh good lord,” I whined. “That won’t do. I’m practically at death’s door, you know.”

“Stop being so dramatic” said the woman whose own mother dubbed her “Sarah Bernhardt” (look it up) at the tender age of three. “You’re not going anywhere. Just get yourself to New Jersey. We’ll take care of everything.” And so they did. Cory is an amazing professional chef at a tony restaurant (look it up!) in Maine, and her mother knows her way around a kitchen as well. I spent some time whimpering about “not feeling well” and complaining that the drive “took the stuffing” out of me. “Yeah, yeah,” they both chided. “Just chill out,” Cory yelled from the kitchen. “Mom’s making the actual stuffing now.”

“Just like the old days,” I shot back, and started to cry. Thus began a three day-long marathon of uncontrollable laughing, never-ending hugging and plenty of crying as we reminisced about our years as a whacky trio way back when in California, where we all lived when Cory was born, whilst making new memories that will last a lifetime—however long that’s meant to be. “Look, none of us knows how much time we have,” I whispered to Cory late one afternoon as “Sarah Bernhardt” lay on a chaise upstairs, icepack to the forehead, drapes drawn to block out the “ghastly light.” 

“Again with the drama,” Cory said, as she rolled her eyes and kissed Dharma for the hundredth time. “And speaking of drama,” she continued, “I took your advice and finally saw Liza Minnelli in Cabaret. Quite a little movie,” she said, sounding a bit like me. Thus began one of our marathon conversations that have always covered a wide range of topics. Eventually, her mother descended the staircase, palm to forehead and stood on the landing, arms akimbo (look it up), ready to join the human race once again. Never at a loss for words, we three conversed for hours, dissecting everything from pop culture to politics, making plans to watch “Funny Girl” later that night once Cordelia admitted that she’d never (gasp!) seen a Barbra Streisand movie. Dharma had a blast taunting Harry the cat while Lucia made repeated trips to the grocery store. “She goes at least once a day,” Cory confided, as her mother zoomed off in search of another turkey (yes, on Thanksgiving Day) since none of us liked the way the first one smelled. 

As the two of them whipped up dish after delicious dish, dinner got pushed back from four to six to eight, and we played games and overcooked the turkey, while Dharma chased Harry from room to room. I stood back for a moment and surveyed the scene, suddenly realizing that I had not felt so well mentally, emotionally and physically in a long, long time. “Body, mind, and spirit,” a wise doctor told me long ago. “All must exist in alignment to really be truly happy, successful and well. It takes all three to make one whole,” he said, and I suddenly understood. 

We managed to get in a little sightseeing, and I saw some of Princeton University. The buildings were gorgeous and the grounds were thrumming with throngs of students looking ever-so Ivy League. We checked out an historic battleground, and I learned a little bit about the region and its rich history, and saw some gorgeous architecture, before making a pit-stop at the grocery store thrown in for good measure. 

Am I thankful? You bet. Turns out, my trip was just what the doctor ordered.



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