Something went wrong with my Dad this week. Sitting at a table with his son, daughter-in-law and wife, he suddenly could not speak. He could not see. He could not respond. His right arm went numb and he felt nauseous.
Seems he had a mini-stroke - basically, nature's polite way of warning you that a big stroke is in your future. As he recounted to my brother later, it was like " ... my gears went into neutral. Like the movie screen that plays in my brain suddenly went blank." A great reminder that we run on electricity, just like a space heater.
As I type this, Dad is checking out of the VA hospital in Biloxi, MS and returning to his motorhome, along with his wife, Shirley, who actually lives in Redmond, WA. They've got a bi-coastal marriage and it seems to work.
The whole episode gave us quite a scare. The worst part is knowing that stuff like this is the natural cycle of things - right on schedule. On January 15, Dad will be 75 - outlasting his own father by over a decade. He is getting older and I noticed it more over the holidays. I like to be in denial but events like this make it harder.
Truth is, old age catch up with all of us. Earlier this week, I applied henna to my hair in an effort to hide the gray. Though I'm in pretty good shape, I notice that things are changing and I am starting to understand why old people talk about their ailments so much - pure astonishment at the cell break down.
Against the advice of an inner circle friend, I saw Brad Pitt's latest, "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button." ("This week might not be the week to see this," she warned, "It's pretty intense.") She's right, the movie is not light but it was actually the perfect time to watch it. The premise is a man who is born old and progresses into youth - turning nature on its head and emphasizing that we all need to be taken care at both ends of our lives. (Other than a few annoying voice-overs and endlessly bad accents, the writing and acting - Cate Blanchett, fer chrissakes - are superb.)
Rich or poor, black or white, fat or thin - we are all born helplessly naked. Pretty or ugly, short or tall, Democrat or Republican - we all (hopefully) die old and infirm. In between, you better live to the fullest because before you know it, party's over.