“A great sense of humor is a great gift!” ~ Diamante Lavendar
Dad’s sense of humor is getting better with age. It’s gotten way better since his heart attack. He came in yesterday with his little black beanie pulled over his ears with his well trimmed goatee. I said, “Dad, you look like a gangster in that hat and goatee.” He paused. “I’m baaaaaaaaaaad,” he giggled.
Today, he saw his cardiologist for the first time since his heart attack. The drugs have dropped his blood pressure dangerously low, but thankfully that’s fixable. Meanwhile, his heart and lungs sounded great! So, we remain in the adjustment period getting those meds just right. I haven’t said much about dad’s condition because it’s an ongoing production. It isn’t as simple as a heart attack, minor as it was, though 100% blockage of one’s main artery is not a minor thing to be sure. To demonstrate just how tough he is, his body has grown enough collateral veins around the blockage that he actually has decent blood flow to his heart. The body is a truly amazing work of art. Still, for dad, ordinary fixes are deadly options.
A year ago he was diagnosed with hardening of the arteries in his brain, specifically in the memory section. It’s also known as vascular dementia. His long term memory is excellent: “What year did you enter the Army?” 1956 (right). But his short term memory is shot: “What time was your appointment today?” 10 (right answer is 3). Doctors also found that he’d had a stroke. So, these vascular issues combined mean he likely would not survive bypass surgery.
In 2000, he lost a kidney to cancer. Contrast used for procedures like a stint is hard on kidneys. If you have only one, like he does, you’ll probably be on dialysis immediately after a stint. Though not a death sentence right away, he would essentially be punching a faster ticket out of here. Not a good option.
That brings me back to his goatee. A year ago I don’t believe he would have ever worn a beanie hat, let alone grow a goatee. Now, he thinks it’s cool, and so do I. He looks like Bruce McCain. I adore that. He seems more comfortable in his own skin than I’ve ever known him to be, and I watch his compassion for the world grow daily. He was always a caring man, but now he’s able to express it in ways that are both truly genuine and funny. He might not remember where he left his shoes, but he’s grateful that he’s still able to put them on by himself when he finds them. That’s the kind of thing healthy, youthful people take for granted. At the end of the day it’s not how much material stuff you have that matters. It’s the things you can do for yourself, and the ways you can leave the world a better place, that makes the real difference. Also, “don’t take a knife to a gun fight if you want to win,” he told me, among other nuggets of wisdom over dinner. I’m telling you, a sense of humor is the only way to live.