I’ve been thinking about my Dad a lot lately. It’s been 5.5 years since he passed away from cancer, but that wasn’t the first disease he/we battled with in his life. The realization came to me the other day that he was my age when he was hit with Multiple Sclerosis. As a kid, I watched my Dad go from a guy I could kick a soccer ball with, to a hospital bed for 3 months, only to come out in a wheelchair for many years to come. In that time, they also determined he had diabetes that would require injections multiple times a day indefinitely.
My Dad was never accused of being “healthy” in any form. He did drugs for years, ate too much, didn’t exercise, was angry and yelled a lot. Too many things to pass off as just “being Italian.” Even so, being a child watching him have mobility, energy, dignity stripped from him, was heartbreaking. I had to be “the man of the house”. My Mom and I had to do everything. I mean how many kids are lifting their Dad in and out of bed, or the bathtub, or the toilet? How many are loading wheelchairs into the car, check the oil in the engine and air in the tires, etc? How many go from a fairly normal income to below the poverty line because their Dad no longer works and Mom can’t because she’d had to become his nurse? I don’t say this as a sob story, it’s just my childhood story.
What smacked me in the face is that he was MY AGE when this started! Whether his (reckless) life caught up with him or whatever it was, he was hit hard. Only later in life to see good progress in his MS but then get hit with cancer multiple times, finally leading to his 59 year old death.
What’s now on my mind? How unhealthy I am. There are things in life we can’t control, but food & beverage intake, exercise, how we handle our finances, etc are well within our power to control. I don’t want my kids to live the life I did. I don’t want them to have to grow up too fast. I don’t want them to lose me too early. Outside of my wife, Amy, they are the greatest blessing in my life.
So, will this all change overnight? Of course not. Can this change if I commit to consistency for my sake and their sake? Of course it can!
Before I end this, I do have to put the silver-lining on this cloud. In the last 10 years of his life, my Dad was a different guy in many ways. Most importantly, he took his KNOWLEDGE of God, Jesus, & Church and turned it into a RELATIONSHIP with them. While his physical body was failing, his spiritual one thrived. Silver-lining indeed.
I loved my Dad, even with all his shortcomings, because he was my Dad. But, I’m proud of my Dad, because his last decade modeled a committed life to his Creator. I can’t wait to see him one day in Heaven…without pain, sickness, and disease. BUT that day is going to be a long long time from now. I will not allow myself to undermine my health and my family’s future anymore!
If you read this whole post, thanks…but also, get back to whatever you should be doing . Life’s too important (& short) to stare at your phone all day! :)
Written by Andrew Pino
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