My grandfather and both of my parents are still alive. My father just turned 70. His father lives in a rest home and is 92. My dad is starting to show signs of cognitive decline and won’t see a doctor. He thinks he is way too young to have Alzheimer’s.
We went to visit grandpa on Saturday. The attendant was with my grandpa when we arrived. The attendant asked grandpa how old he was and he said 92. He looked at my dad and asked him the same question. Dad said, “I’m 22 years younger.” Then the attendant said, “Oh, so you’re 70. To that my dad replied, “It’s hardly worth going home.”
When we got back to mom and dad’s house I sat down with dad and asked him how he was feeling. He said, “When I go to the market I can’t remember what I went to buy. When I get home half the things I bought say, ‘for fast relief’.
Dad believes seeing a psychologist means you are insane and seeing a priest means you are a sinner. So both of those options were quickly dispatched. Seeing a doctor means you will find out what’s wrong – and that implies something is really wrong.
So we all ignored it for another week. At some point we can’t ignore it. Thankfully mom remembers everything and makes sure they take their medications. She is 69 and fully functioning, social and vibrant. She looks and acts 10 years younger. Dad smoked and drank his whole life and looks and feels 10 years older than he is. Seems kind of unfair to mom. She’s sweet and loving. He’s grumpy and cranky.
All this makes me want to take advantage of life now and take care of myself. That’s such a shift from my self-destructive days. I believe the date of my death is set but I also believe how I am doing and feeling up to that date is my determination. Off to the gym I go.
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