Monthly Archives: January 2014

Parents and mortality

Well, I am so thankful that my dad is getting better, but wow. Now, my dad is 76. Until he started having the dizziness that started this crazy odyssey he was walking 2 miles twice a week and going to the gym to lift weights 3 days a week. So the guy was in better shape than I am at 45. Now he is in a rehab center, in a wheelchair, and can use a walker for short distances. He had meningitis from an infection, so as the swelling goes down, he is “coming back to being himself” as my brother says. But as my mom said to me last night, “I live with the man you know, and he has a really long way to go”. I look around his rehab place, which as a Social Worker I know is top notch, and look at the other folks there. There is one man who can’t be more than late 50s early 60s. He and his wife have their own business and were getting ready to look at retirement. Then he had a massive stroke in October. A week later his mother had a massive stroke. They are in different facilities, and his wife is the only one to deal with all of it for both of them. Then there are the folks just there to recover from a hip replacement or something and will return to their old lives, pretty much as normal. It is a real slice of humanity, and a lesson in the fact that you really never know what is around the corner. I get the sense that the man who had the stroke and his wife are pretty well off, probably close to those 1% -ers we are all told to resent so much. Well, all that money sure didn’t prevent this tragedy for him and his family. Sure, they will be able to get better care for him than a lot of other people could, but this vibrant, brilliant guy, about to be able to enjoy what all his hard work has given him, is now in a wheelchair, has trouble speaking, and god knows what else. Most of us, myself included, tend to think we live our lives, and then we die. Cut and dried. Black and white. But what if we don’t? What if we have a stroke at 40? 50? 60? Who will take care of us? Our spouse? What if we don’t have one? Our kids? What if we don’t have any, or they just can’t do it? And even worse, what if we can’t communicate, and our loved ones have no idea what we want? There is a thing you can get online that let’s you go through exactly what you want if something were to happen and you can’t make your wishes known. It’s called Five Wishes. I’m going to do mine today. It’s never too early.