When I was in Cub Scouts, an old lady (she was probably 30) walked up to me and said, “You must be Mike Segal’s son. You look just like him.” Over the years, I heard that statement multiple times. I can tell you, for certain, that I’m Mike’s Segal’s son! The longer I live, the more I think I’m reliving his life.
When I look in the mirror, I see my dad’s face. My hands are his hands. My chronic cough and hocking up phlegm are identical to my dad’s. My pessimism and negativism are Mike’s. It’s freaky and it’s sad. My dad’s end was nasty.
I’m going to have more surgery; and, at my age, in my condition, the risk of surgery is magnified. My mother refused to let my father die. Every time he tried, she had the docs pull him back from the other side. Renee and the children know that their duty will be to let me go when the Parkinson’s worsens, if I get dementia, or if I lose the ability to enjoy life. I know it hurts them to hear me say that, but I have no choice. On average, most of my patients held on to life so long that their lives were miserable. Their family’s lives were miserable as well, even though they wouldn’t admit it.
In the end, we all die. Often, wives and children would express shame at feeling relief after the death of their loved one. I would remind them of the love and care they showed for their father/husband and explain that the relief they felt was because their loved one no longer suffered. In reality, part of their relief was because their suffering was at an end, ready to be replaced with a different kind of misery.
I can not remember the details of the good times I had with my father as the end lasted so very long and left so much misery. I can only hope that my family will be spared the worst and be able to remember Fourth of July by the pool. Seeing what Renee is going through as she takes care of me has changed my perception of my mother, as well.
My mother was left in Norfolk to care for my dad on her own. I can only imagine how hard that must have been. Her children and grandchildren lived away and trips home were short and hectic. She was tough and made a life for herself despite my being in Illinois and my brother in Tennessee. I judged her harshly at times and I regret that.
The moral of this story is to be careful not to live too long. Secondarily, your elders need your support as they move closer to the end. Do not judge them as you may be destined to become them. Instead, spend as much good time with them as you can rather than standing at graveside regretting the many missed opportunities to make a good memory to overshadow the bad ones.
Now, for my Theory of Relativity. That old lady who identified me as Mike’s son was probable 30. Thirty was definitely old at that point in my life. Later on, thirty was hot, the marrying age. At fifty, 30 was still hot but starting to look a little too young. At sixty, 30 was my daughter’s age and taboo. At 70, eighty-year-olds are starting to look hot. You can stare at them as long as you want, neither of you will remember. Honestly, at seventy, you can peek at 30-year-olds just long enough to realize you need a nap. There you have it, my theory of relativity based on age.
Here’s your joke:
I was reading an article last night about fathers and sons, and memories came flooding back of the time I took my son out for his first drink.
Off we went to our local bar, which is only two blocks from the house.
I got him a Miller Genuine. He didn’t like it – so I drank it.
Then I got him a Fosters, he didn’t like it either, so I drank it.
It was the same with the Coors and the Bud.
By the time we got down to the Irish whiskey,
I could hardly push the stroller back home.