I was watching John Ford’s “Stagecoach” the other day, when I noticed something I’d missed before. You see, John Carradine, a great voice and a wonderful character actor, had arthritis. He was only 33 when he made “Stagecoach”, but at the beginning of the film, when he’s dealing cards, you can already see the finger angulation that became so pronounced later in his career. By the time he died, you’d have to say he no longer had “hands”, he had “flippers”.
It seems like only a couple of years ago (it’s actually been closer to ten) that I went to see my Rheumatologist and complained of a single finger popping out of joint when I tried to close my hands first thing in the morning. He basically said, “Get used to it.” He was right. Now when I try to make a fist after resting for even a couple of hours, several of my fingers feel like they’re going to pop out of joint (it’s the base joint where the fingers meet the hand). I have to admit my time is coming. I’m way past 33 so I’m luckier than Carradine, but somehow, I just don’t feel lucky, if you know what I mean.
When I’m down and feeling sorry for myself, I remember that I used to be a magician. I wasn’t great, but I had nimble fingers and could make the coins and cards dance when I wished. Haven’t been able to do that for a long time. But then Dawg comes over and I realize that I can still pet him, and doing that makes us both feel better.
Hey, Dawg — wanna see a trick? Is that a dog treat in your ear?