A guy I knew from home recently passed away. Facebook has been all a lit with memorial pages, photos and stories of “remember when…”, but the one thing that has not been mentioned is how he died. Even his obituary is void of the cause. I find this disconcerting but not for the reasons you think, you see in addition to being a total hypochondriac I’m horribly Woody Allen about death (I’m sure there is a connection there).
All of this stems from the fact that my father died when I was a young girl and he was a young man at the age of 42. Yes, he had a giant T-shaped scar that started at the top of the chest and went down to his belly button and he put on his medical dog tags as my mother doled “vitamins” from a layered pill box, but as far as I knew this was a man of picture perfect health because no one told me otherwise. So in 1986, when he went into the hospital for his second (might have been third) heart valve operation everyone was all rosy cheeked and talking about his safe return. I visited him once in the hospital and sure he looked a little frail, but we talked about all the things we were going to do as father and daughter when he got out and I couldn’t wait until that day. I don’t think it was too long after that my brother showed up in my bedroom doorway to tell me he died. I was sad, but I was more outraged because I was promised everything was fine.
Matthew turns 42 this year — the same age my father was when he died — and I now find myself thinking horrible thoughts late in the night. But that’s not fair to me and that’s definitely not fair to Matthew. I’m not spending the rest of the year, if not the rest of my life, holding a mirror up under his nose or kicking him like I do my aging cats when they are in too deep of a sleep. He is not my father. My father was a sick man his whole life with a weak heart his whole life. I just never knew that until I was much older.
We talk about being healthy, eating healthy, working out, keeping our minds clear with say yoga, but then bam, everything can change in a blink of an eye and that scares the hell out of me. I guess it scares the hell out of everyone, but I can’t believe I’m around the age my father was when he died, the same age as my mother sans a cranky 13 and a budding 17-year-old.
Mark Twain said, “Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” Time to heed this advice.