Sometimes reminders of aging come in whispers, and sometimes with sledgehammers. I had a sledgehammer moment today. My father, Alvin, is 83 years old. Up until a few years ago, he was always robust and freakishly strong for a man his size. Hard work made him happy, and he was happy a lot. Besides physical labor, Dad loved to be a community doer. He was involved in various school boards at the local and state level, drove “older” neighbors to doctor appointments, volunteered at church, and continued to work at the VFW as needed.
But the abuses of a construction worker’s life caught up with him. The layers of health issues lashed at his body without mercy. First there was the heart attack, but he seemed to handle that pretty well. Then came the stroke, and it was harder to push through. The VA hospital said they never saw a man work harder to overcome his limitations, yet the nerves did not respond.
Dad is one of those rare compliant types who actually does the home exercises, takes his medications, and believes it will get better. I love him for his spirit. About a month ago he slipped in the bathroom and broke his “good” shoulder. Weeks of pain and physical therapy followed.
Today Dad had a dental cleaning appointment. His oral homecare has always been a point of pride with him, but this time the hygienist said his mouth wasn’t looking as good as in the past. I wasn’t surprised. If I had two bad shoulders I suppose my brushing techniques would lack as well. I asked Dad how he felt about it, and he shrugged. “I guess I’m getting old.” That is when the sledgehammer hit me. Dad will never be old in my mind. Maybe his body is wearing out, but that man will always be a Titan in my heart.