Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Keep CounterPunch ad free. Support our annual fund drive today!

Really Paying It Forward


Recently, I read an article about the aging population, specifically, those who have Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, and the burden placed on families, society, and health care.  As always, I looked at reader reactions. A man said he’s saving for the likelihood of an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, long-term care in a facility, so his children won’t have to bear the responsibility. I agree with the person who said she’d take her own life if diagnosed with a mind-robbing, progressive condition. You know, go while the going is good.

We, the Sisterhood, Laura, Erma, and I, discuss end times. Our own.

I have it on the best authority that I am not depressed.

I have it on the best authority that I am an Olympic worrier, could compete for the Gold in Anxiety. Erma and I could synchronize in this category. Laura seldom worries.  I am my mother. Laura is Daddy, the man who often said, “Don’t worry about things over which you have no control.”

I don’t have to know you to empathize, to assume your sorrow.

If my mother were alive, you’d be on her prayer list. You are on my worry list.

You are 40, only a year older than one of my sons, and you have been diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer.  Your daughter is 10. You are a fighter, a protector of your child, and you want more than anything to survive, to see your daughter grow to become a woman, to be with her through her triumphs and trials. My greatest fear when I was your age was for my children, that one of them would be diagnosed with a horrible illness. Some of their classmates were, a girl with a brain tumor, a boy with leukemia.  “Please, no,” I would say to someone, anyone. My second fear was yours—that I would not live to raise them.

Happy and independent, my children are launched, out of my nest, building theirs.

My heart is breaking for you. My thoughts are with you. And because I don’t fear death, have had a wonderful life, and am almost ready to use my new Medicare card in a few months, I am accepting.

Several months ago, I talked with my gastroenterologist—another endoscopy to check the inflamed esophagus, the colonoscopy.  We got down. We discussed stress, the effects of stress on my body. Other than this damn stress, I’m in great shape. And I’m fine with whatever. I’ve had a fabulous life. It’s still good. I’m a runner. I walk to the grocery. I walk to the little theater a block from my apartment and see performances as spectacular as any I’ve attended on Broadway. I participate in life, this life I’ve had/have that’s brimming with love and laughter, but I am not young.

You are.

Here’s the deal: We humans are 65 to 90% water by weight, so oxygen accounts for 65% of our body’s mass. Carbon is 18%. If I could orchestrate the ultimate and pay it forward, I would—my life to you, my good health for you. This would be authentic carbon trading. I could go for this, go while the going is good. I want you to know.

Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in Baltimore. Email:




Missy Beattie has written for National Public Radio and Nashville Life Magazine. She was an instructor of memoirs writing at Johns Hopkins’ Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in BaltimoreEmail:

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine


October 24, 2016
John Steppling
The Unwoke: Sleepwalking into the Nightmare
Oscar Ortega
Clinton’s Troubling Silence on the Dakota Access Pipeline
Patrick Cockburn
Aleppo vs. Mosul: Media Biases
John Grant
Humanizing Our Militarized Border
Franklin Lamb
US-led Sanctions Targeting Syria Risk Adjudication as War Crimes
Paul Bentley
There Must Be Some Way Out of Here: the Silence of Dylan
Norman Pollack
Militarism: The Elephant in the Room
Patrick Bosold
Dakota Access Oil Pipeline: Invite CEO to Lunch, Go to Jail
Paul Craig Roberts
Was Russia’s Hesitation in Syria a Strategic Mistake?
Lara Gardner
Why I’m Not Voting
David Swanson
Of All the Opinions I’ve Heard on Syria
Weekend Edition
October 21, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Wight
Hillary Clinton and the Brutal Murder of Gaddafi
Diana Johnstone
Hillary Clinton’s Strategic Ambition in a Nutshell
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Trump’s Naked and Hillary’s Dead
John W. Whitehead
American Psycho: Sex, Lies and Politics Add Up to a Terrifying Election Season
Stephen Cooper
Hell on Earth in Alabama: Inside Holman Prison
Patrick Cockburn
13 Years of War: Mosul’s Frightening and Uncertain Future
Rob Urie
Name the Dangerous Candidate
Pepe Escobar
The Aleppo / Mosul Riddle
David Rosen
The War on Drugs is a Racket
Sami Siegelbaum
Once More, the Value of the Humanities
Cathy Breen
“Today Is One of the Heaviest Days of My Life”
Neve Gordon
Israel’s Boycott Hypocrisy
Mark Hand
Of Pipelines and Protest Pens: When the Press Loses Its Shield
Victor Wallis
On the Stealing of U.S. Elections
Michael Hudson
The Return of the Repressed Critique of Rentiers: Veblen in the 21st century Rentier Capitalism
Brian Cloughley
Drumbeats of Anti-Russia Confrontation From Washington to London
Howard Lisnoff
Still Licking Our Wounds and Hoping for Change
Brian Gruber
Iraq: There Is No State
Peter Lee
Trump: We Wish the Problem Was Fascism
Stanley L. Cohen
Equality and Justice for All, It Seems, But Palestinians
Steve Early
In Bay Area Refinery Town: Berniecrats & Clintonites Clash Over Rent Control
Kristine Mattis
All Solutions are Inadequate: Why It Doesn’t Matter If Politicians Mention Climate Change
Peter Linebaugh
Ron Suny and the Marxist Commune: a Note
Andre Vltchek
Sudan, Africa and the Mosaic of Horrors
Keith Binkly
The Russians Have Been Hacking Us For Years, Why Is It a Crisis Now?
Jonathan Cook
Adam Curtis: Another Manager of Perceptions
Ted Dace
The Fall
Sheldon Richman
Come and See the Anarchy Inherent in the System
Susana Hurlich
Hurricane Matthew: an Overview of the Damages in Cuba
Dave Lindorff
Screwing With and Screwing the Elderly and Disabled
Chandra Muzaffar
Cuba: Rejecting Sanctions, Sending a Message
Dennis Kucinich
War or Peace?
Joseph Natoli
Seething Anger in the Post-2016 Election Season
Jack Rasmus
Behind The 3rd US Presidential Debate—What’s Coming in 2017