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Imagine yourself in a multiplex movie theater. Curiously, no walls separate the half-dozen theaters that form the multiplex. Miraculously, you are watching six different screens all at once, thoroughly understanding and enjoying every scene, word, character.

Welcome to ADHD

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Blackwells and Schafers      Longtime friends Barb and Rob Schafer make me glad I’m here …

It’s been 18 lively years since I died.

Blackie? questions Screen Five. You may want to re-work your lead sentence.

“Why?” I ask. “They really have been wonderful times.”

But you died, Five reminds.

“Yes. That does put a damper on things. And yet, here I am.”

Is being here what makes your days so special? queries Two. Because it seems it would be hard to enjoy those same hours when you are gone.

“Agreed. Do you think other people notice my upbeat attitude?”

They do, indeed, comments One. Remember the folks on the airplane?

“This is your captain speaking,” rolls the deep voice from the crackling overhead speaker. “Know we’ve had a bit of a delay already. Sorry … it’s about to get worse. Thought we were cleared for takeoff, but the ground crew’s touchy about a problem with one of our engines. Sit back and relax for a bit and we’ll keep you updated.”

Expletives burst from the mouth of the beer-scented man occupying the aisle seat. He finally takes a breath, allowing the well-dressed woman between us to lend her brand of curse words. As she winds down, both expectantly look at me.

“I’m grateful.”

Pollyanna!” mocks the man.

Hayley Mills old and youngYou do not look like Hayley Mills, Three assures me. Not remotely.

“Why?” asks the woman, displaying her disdain. “I’m intrigued,” she nearly meows.

If she is intrigued, I am Screen One, growls Six.

“Better they find engine problems while we’re still on the ground, don’t you think?”

“That – that’s an unbelievable attitude,” declares the fashion statement, caught off guard. She looks at the man (he shrugs) and both seatmates lapse into thoughtful silence.

“To be fair,” I resume, “I should explain that doctors declared me dead after a horrific accident. So I start my day differently than most folks.”

“How so?” begrudgingly asks the sour man, throwing restless legs into the aisleway.

“You wake up and pout, ‘Augh, another day.’ I wake up and shout, ‘Ah, another day!’”

And you really do! cheers Six.

“Gonna be a long, *&@+!* flight,” mutters the Aisle Avenger.

Black, interjects Four, that fellow did not speak in symbols.

Blatantly disgusted by my attitude, the man closes eyes and pretends to drift off. The woman lets him rest, but not the matter.

Athletic - not“Don’t you hurt? You said you used to be athletic. But you certainly don’t walk well. You’ve put up with surgery after surgery. And you said you once had a memory that was almost photographic. But now you don’t remember even simple things. How good can life be when so much has changed? Spare me.”

“Sing it, sister,” says the man who feigns sleep.

Think about this answer, nudges One. She is leaning forward now. Really listening.

“Yes, I do. Hurt, that is. All over. Even my eyebrows hurt.”

The woman looks surprised. She bursts into a high and airy laugh.

“I am embarrassed. I who ran miles on soccer fields now pitch so uncontrollably, so unexpectedly to the right as I walk, I ofttimes stagger like a drunk.”

Confirms Three, Numerous policemen have offered breathalyzer tests.

“And in the course of this flight, we may discuss the same topic twice without me realizing it.”

“So why are you grateful to be alive, then?”

“Because my parents who lost one son haven’t lost another. Because I have the exceptional honor of being husband to a bride and the extraordinary pleasure of being dad to a daughter. Because diminished as I am in the midst of what the world sees as my terrible setback and ongoing handicaps, I still live and breathe and laugh and love and praise among friends and family. That’s why.”

Miss Vogue looks intently into my face, then peeks over her shoulder at the Aisle Avenger. He, out cold, has clearly succumbed to the alcohol. She turns back to me, smiles and conspiratorially whispers, “I’m glad, too.”

“That I’m alive?”

“That they fixed the engine before takeoff.”


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Postscript: My second chance at life began August 28th, 1997.

“Eighteen more long years of you,” snipes my next-youngest brother, Thor. “I think I died when you were reborn.”

Why did you not write about The Accident last week? asks Screen Two. Your column would have appeared Thursday night, just hours before your “anniversary” on Friday!

“You know how accident-prone I am, Two. What if I somehow passed away after the column appeared but before the anniversary occurred?”

Good point, says Three. You might have died of embarrassment.

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Still more creatures who make life interesting