This Father’s Day is likely the last one with mine. My dad has terminal cancer and Alzheimer’s, and he is very weak. Why am I posting something like this on a website about exercise? You only have a certain window of time to be active. It may be a long window, but you can’t count on being able to get up and go forever.
When He’s Strong
Take advantage of his strength and vigor and be active with your father when you can. Some of my fondest memories are with my dad when I was a young adult. On days when we had nothing in particular planned, we’d say “Let’s go for a walk”. We’d walk in the neighborhood, or go to a state park. We’d walk for 15 minutes, or an hour. It never seemed long, though, since we had some of our best talks on those walks.
I don’t remember exactly what we talked about, but I know he was always being my cheerleader, sharing his views without being condescending, and sometimes, he shared exciting things he was doing as a volunteer in our town. At the time, I never gave much thought to how precious those walks were.
Don’t Take it for Granted
Fast forward about ten years, and he began to slow down, a lot. We soon learned he had bladder cancer, and he needed surgery on average 2-3 times per year. That took such a toll on him physically and mentally. Jump ahead a few more years, and he is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s – we suspected something was wrong for a long time, but by the time it was confirmed, he was so weakened from cancer that our walks were long gone. I have no idea when we last went for a walk. Our talks now, are very, very different. He’s still my cheerleader and a huge supporter, but well, if you’ve ever known someone with Alzheimer’s, you probably know how our conversations sound.
When You’re Strong
I know this is about Dads, but sooner or later, you’ll be in his shoes. When I have talked about my reasons for exercising, disease prevention is way up there, as is general quality of life. I am an older mom, and I want to have those walks (or trampoline jumps, or whatever) with my daughter as long as I damn well can, and want to keep my mind in the best shape possible so I’m still the same mom mentally until my dying day.
Some days I figure “why am I bothering to take care of myself?”, but then I remember the stats. Lifestyle is the BIGGEST contributing factor to these diseases. I may have my own health issues to worry about now, but I have to imagine how I would be feeling if I weren’t taking care of myself. I.CAN’T.STOP.
Do a favor for yourself and all your loved ones. Get moving and don’t stop. Don’t complain when your loved ones tell you to get moving. They love you and want you around.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad.