Today is my father’s 89th birthday. He’s outlived his mother’s death age by three years; his father died 84 years ago when Dad was five. He’s outlived all five of his siblings, even a nephew and niece and several grand nieces and nephews. Dad is a person who is bound and determined to squeeze the last juice out of life’s lemon. As Dylan Thomas tells us, Dad will never go gently into that good night.
Last Friday (the day after our entire clan had spent a wonderful Thanksgiving together), my Dad had an early morning heart attack while using the NuStepper in his gym. An ambulance arrived within minutes and off we went.
Dad was scheduled to have a stress test (chemical) on Monday but chest pains over the weekend suggested to the cardiologist that Dad go directly to the Cath Lab for an angiogram. Boom! Three blockages at 100%, 85%, and 85%. Of course, he is feeling much better getting the newly oxygenated blood through three new stents.
Happy Birthday, Billy Gene.
Twelve years ago, Dad had a heart attack and was taken to the same hospital and had the same cardiologist. The doctor put in six stents in 2007, and we knew that stents generally last about a decade if one is lucky. And everything under the sun can go wrong. And for many individuals, it does.
A new clinical trial summary was released just last week called ISCHEMIA from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, which looks at the effectiveness of stents in a stable heart (which Dad doesn’t have, and of course, he is elderly.) It appears everything happened correctly and luck was again on Dad’s side. The doctor told us Dad could have died during the stress test.
Now he is the Bionic Man with nine stents. I do not take one day of the last 12 years for granted, even his crabbiest stubborn days (a prelude for my son). Dad gained a new granddaughter when his grandson married, witnessed another become an Eagle Scout. He attended both grandsons’ graduations from high school and college. He cared for his ailing wife and honored her in death. And he kept right on living, gardening, reading, socializing, active in church and community activities, and attending more reunions that you can imagine.
Eleanor Roosevelt said Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift. Today, Dad’s 89th birthday, is indeed a gift. Every new day he gets is a gift. And knowing Dad he will use them fully, though this week he will miss the Purdue concert, the retired ag teachers luncheon a six-hour round trip), and teaching a class at Purdue (yes, I said teaching a class at Purdue.) They still asked him and he still goes. He’s been “retired since 1988.