You are not your father.
You don't have diabetes.
You don't smoke five packs of cigarettes a day.
You are a lot healthier than he was.
You are not having a heart attack.
Learn the symptoms and quit coming to ER every time you think you feel something.
I heard those words from my doctor more than twenty years ago. It was after I showed up at my local hospital's emergency room. I had been there so many times over imagined chest pains that she got tired of that behavior. Finally, she had enough of that behavior and she told me off...and it wasn't as nice as I made it sound.
One night, in 1970, my dad was having chest pains. My brother drove him to the hospital. It was his first heart attack. My father was forty-five years old. Those one hundred daily cigarettes and the diabetes caught up to him.
I know you're wondering how anyone can smoke that much. I've thought about that over the years. The math says you're smoking one almost every second that you're awake. Yuck! But, he did quit smoking. It was on his trip to the hospital. While having a major heart attack, he lit one up. He decided it was pretty stupid to do that and threw it out the window. My dad kicked a five pack a day habit cold turkey. It extended his life until...
One afternoon when my dad started feeling chest pains. He went to the emergency room. Heart attack number two. He was hospitalized for about a month. They finally sent him home. A day or so later, he had another heart attack. That was the final one.
That was on April 26, 1982. Thirty-seven years ago today, my father died at the age of fifty-seven.
My father and both grandfathers died of heart disease. I figured that was my fate, too. That's why I was always going to the ER when I was in my forties. That was why I called it bonus time when I passed my fifty-seventh birthday. I assumed my genes were going to get me. You know what happens when you assume?
I become more than a little introspective as this date approaches every year. I realize more of my life has been spent without my dad than with him. I realize that I've lived longer than he did. If I can make it to June, it'll be ten years longer. I wonder what he would have thought about the way life has turned out for me, his other children and the rest of his many friends and family. I think about how much he would have loved all his grandchildren. I think about how much they would have loved him. They all missed out.
But, that's the way life goes. It may not go exactly the way you'd like, but you move on. On this day, the anniversary of my father's death, I'll remember the good times with him. I can cherish the memories and not lament the lost time.
Oh yeah, about those chest pains and emergency room visits, that doctor was right. I'm not my father...at least about heart disease. I stopped going to the hospital for every chest pain and ache. I've moved on. Now I just go there for kidney stone pains. Did I ever tell you the story about my dad driving himself to the ER when he was having a kidney stone attack?
Related Post: You never stop missing your parents
Type your email address in the box and click the "create subscription" button. My list is completely spam free, and you can opt out at any time.