It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…..


“It ain’t over ‘til the fat lady sings.” Now there’s a phrase! It has a special meaning for me today: I just came back from a trip to one of my doctors, the delightful one who specializes in infectious diseases. It is she who will determine when I am ready to undergo another surgery to remove the concrete spacer lodged in my right hip and replace that with a new prosthesis. Needless to say, I was anticipating her assessment, though I bragged to Lisa and Jon that I was not allowing myself to count on a specific date or a result or any such thing, because I didn’t want to be slapped upside the head one more time.

Well, I talk a good game. The doctor said, “Wow! Your lab test results are looking good. Obviously our therapy is working; you’re just a slow responder. Let’s keep doing what we’re doing, and I will see you in three weeks.” Three weeks! Despite my brave talk to my children, my heart plummeted to the vicinity of my ankle bones.

Here’s my lesson: it ain’t over till the fat lady sings. The adage essentially means that one shouldn’t assume the outcome of some activity (frequently a sports game) until it has actually finished—or that’s what it means for many of us. The phrase is often attributed to sports commentator Dan Cook who made this remark in the late ‘70’s, in relation to the NBA playoffs. However, in another form, the phrase is, “the opera isn’t over until the fat lady sings”, and conjures up a vision of Brünnhilde (a very large Valkyrie) singing, and then riding onto Siegfried’s funeral pyre at the end of Wagner’s ring cycle.

Her blond braids hang down from under her horned helmet, and she is clearly a ‘woman of size’. And finally, in the South you will hear “church ain’t over until the fat lady sings”, referring ungraciously to a robust member of the church choir, I’d guess.

Regardless of its origin, the adage means the same: it’s a form of self-reassurance (or denial) in the face of long odds, and is usually muttered when things look grim. It’s the phrase that came to mind when I heard “See me again in three weeks.” What it meant to me was “Three more weeks at Orchard Creek”, and it reinforced the helplessness of being in a position where nothing I could do would alter the decision: it was out of my hands. My hoped-for outcome was not going to happen, and I will stay at Orchard Creek for three more weeks, or until my Medicare allotment of 100 days has expired, whichever comes first.

I listen to the concerns of the patients here at OC and I have a deeper respect for the obstacles they face: Miriam and Norm can’t afford to be in the supported living apartments and don’t know where they will go; Roseanne must leave her cozy house and live for a time with her son—she wonders if she will ever go to her own home again. It’s amazing, I think (not for the first time), that their spirits are high and that my companions keep working toward better health and self-sustainability.

They all must know the meaning of “It ain’t over ‘till the fat lady sings.”


5 thoughts on “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings…..

  1. Hey, Jude, don’t be sad.
    Take a bad song and make it better
    Remember you are in excellent hands
    And the lab reports keep getting better!

    Hey, Jude, let’s all be glad
    You are on the way to getting better
    You know we are all here, and we love you
    And you are beginning to make it better.

  2. I’m reminded of the George Carlin remark supposedly by someone in limbo: “I can do an eon standing on my head.”

    So, my dear, can you. And you will. And you’ll enlighten all of us and enhance our lives in the process.

    And, frankly, waiting three weeks for the fat lady to sing is probably less time than sitting through the entire Wagner Ring Cycle…..

    Hang in there.

    Chuck and Nan

  3. Dang, and here I was thinking that the damn fat lady was going to sing in December, and January, and now February and no song! I think I hate that fat lady; where is she anyway? I suppose she is somewhere eating bon-bons.

    Okay, so you are in a position where you need to heal, and your body is doing that, some people aren’t that lucky. And, let’s see, you are otherwise in good health. Hmmm…you are still getting comments and emails from friends after all these many months, that seems really, really, really good, you must be a really nice person. Ahhh, oh yeah, the staff at OC likes you.

    I know, it sucks. But, you just have to deal with being patient. So, hang in there.

  4. My mom heard about your blog through word of mouth. At 69, she also has been somewhat of a spring chicken herself, over at Pavilions, following total hip replacement surgery. Rehab at Pavilions was going well, and then it happened: four letters, maybe better as a four-letter word. Emergency surgery at Munson, and labs soon after confirmed what we all feared: MRSA.

    Tomorrorow is surgery #3, for drainage and to replace the “new hip” with the concrete spacer. Post recuperation, she’ll be heading back to Pavilions for rehab, and continuation of her 6+ week regimen of drugs. At some point, God willing, the game resets, and she tries again with hip replacement surgery.

    Sound familiar? Your ongoing battle sounds uncomfortably close to my mom’s, who is too damn young and has too much living to do to hear that fat lady yet. Best wishes on your own path, and if you are interested in connecting with a kindred soul, I know my mom is absolutely interested in same. This is too much for 1 person, or even 1 family, to endure alone.

    And we also have Georgia on our minds, by the way, but it has nothing to do with real estate. I’m sure you must know by now about phage therapy, offered in Tbilisi. Seems to offer a lot of promise for a cure, maybe more promise than what antibiotics — which got the world into this mess to begin with — offer.

    Maybe we can get a group rate together???

    Stay positive, and fight like hell.

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