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A Second Chance

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I was stunned and saddened by the news of the death of television star James Gandolfini. My daughter called to tell me. She knew I was a huge fan of the show, The Sopranos when it was on HBO.

It was hard for her to tell me, I’m sure, not only because she too is a fan of the show, but because of my recent heart issues. Gandolfini is reported to have died of a heart attack. Just a few weeks ago I suffered my third heart attack and it’s been rough on my family, my daughter and my wife especially.



Gandolfini was a big man. It was right for his character, Tony Soprano – a large living Mafioso who led a gang of hoods who ruled parts of New Jersey. He had a big appetite for wine, women and rich Italian foods. Pasta was often his dish of choice on the show. And his consumption was contagious. Whenever Tony ate pasta I grew hungry for some.

I think most of us who watched the show associated Tony Soprano with Gandolfini, the man none of us really knew. We probably think he lived his life the way Tony lived, but we don’t know.

What we do know, at this point, is that James Gandolfini died of a heart attack. I know that some three weeks ago I had a heart attack and his death is yet another warning signal to me that this heart stuff is serious. It should be to everyone reading this. Heart attacks don’t discriminate. Some of us are more fortunate than others. Some of us survive; but who knows why?

My grandfather died of a heart attack in his mid-sixties; my father died of a heart attack at 60 and my brother, who is twelve years older than me, has had open heart surgery. I guess that means that my problems are hereditary. But they aren’t unavoidable. Technology has afforded me second and third chances my grandfather and father never had. It has given my brother and me opportunities to live longer with our loved ones and to, hopefully, see the development of even more advanced technology that allows us to live even longer.

Along the way, we are challenged to change the way we’ve lived our lives so far. While neither my brother nor I are drinking men, there are other things in our diets that we could and must curb that will lessen the odds of us suffering future attacks. Is doing those things a sure bet? Probably not. But they give us a fighting chance.

We have the benefit of second chances – benefits that my forefathers and James Gandolfini and countless others who succumbed to heart ailments didn’t have. It’s up to us to eat right, exercise, take our medications and visit our doctors to be worthy of this new life we’ve been given.     

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Eric Von is a former radio talk show host and a publisher of Brain Brawn & Body (brainbrawnbody.com). You can contact Eric at eric.von@brainbrawnbody.com.

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Guest Saturday, 27 May 2017