It came in an email – “Your dad has a blockage,” – and as if in ironic empathy, I felt my heart sink.
Other things that came in that same email – “We caught it early” and “We are getting it taken care of,” and “he’s going to be ok”, didn’t seem to pick my heart back up, at least not as high as it had been prior.
My father, a man who just turned 60, has always been at the pinnacle of physical health – tall, lean, and active. Active to the point that even NOW I feel he could easily kick my butt in hand-to-hand combat, but he’s refrained from challenging me while I was in the midst of child-bearing. (He’s also a gentleman.)
When I look at him, and my mother (who incidentally is in a new health kick and in the best shape I’ve seen her in years), I do not see the “aged”. I remember when I was little, if I heard someone was in their fifties or sixties, they MUST have white hair, need a cane – I’m sure you know the picture I imagined.
Those white haired people, are my grandparents. I have all four – the eldest 86, and still checking his cattle, the youngest 78, and working as a home health aid, taking care of home-bound persons much younger than she.
My question is, who is old? I am not yet thirty, and feel so unbelievably old – that half my life is gone and I’ve accomplished so little. My face starts to show lines, my joints are starting to ache, and my children are starting to get more and more – wait, it’s enough to say I HAVE CHILDREN.
And then I think, aging is a gift. A gift God has given me, and others have not had the opportunity to continue. It’s a gift many of the young and beautiful are struggling against illness to achieve. It’s a gift that has allowed me to continue to have earthly bonds with my ancestors, to know them as an adult in a much more meaningful kind of way.
Hollywood has taken the beauty of youth and pushed it before the beauty of life, a full life, in which battle scars mark our faces and bodies, telling stories of our past, giving us hope for our future. It causes us to wrongly assume that life is over once we are done being “wrinkle-free.” To that I say, bollox.
The doctor told us my father’s blockage was in the “widow-maker” artery. Bedside manner lacking, it told us how lucky we were to have him here, with a simple stent to allow him to be as active as ever, if only with a new perspective – not just for him, but all of us.
Our time is limited here. As a Christian, and a spiritual being, I have hope for promise of life beyond death, but I want to remain here as long as I can, to enjoy those I love as much as I can, and to help God’s creation as much as I can.
Be thankful for the gift of your life, thankful you have gained enough time to earn signs of age, and try to forget our consumption with physical appearance – only you have control of your insides, and only God can make judgment on that!