Thursday, April 11, 2013

Twelve Years Ago Today...

Mom and Dad before I was even a glimmer

...My dad passed away. Complications from severe diabetes, which he'd had for most of his adult life. If he'd been able to avail himself to the refined medications and general expertise we have about the disease today, he'd likely still be with us. He simply could never control his blood sugar, no matter how precise his regimen. His dosage of insulin and  diet might be exactly the same every day for a week, but his blood sugar still fluctuated madly day after day. I remember some of the violent insulin reactions he had; they were terrifying. Worse than epileptic seizures. Violent. Horrifying. Frequent. Thank ye gods, Dad was able to retire from a 30-year career with Dupont at age 52 — younger than I am now — and have some quality of life before the disease destroyed his body.

If he were alive today, Dad would be 82 years old, and I confess I find it difficult to imagine him at that age. He was relatively young when he died — just shy of 71 — but those last few years barely counted as living. He suffered a rapidly progressive debilitation that by all appearances rivaled AIDS. I've always believed diabetes has been an "under-rated" disease. It doesn't get the attention that cancer, HIV, and heart disease command with the media, but I saw up close and personal how devastating it can be. Fortunately, medical advances in the past few years have reduced, if not eradicated, the kind of suffering my dad went through. Till the end, his mind remained sharp, and while in hindsight there are so many things I wish we could have shared during those last days, at least from my view, we parted without words left unspoken. For that, I feel blessed.

If there's any lesson Dad left me, it's to treasure the moments... the people... the experiences... that life offers us. My mom is still alive and doing fairly well. I talked to her just a while ago, and though it was all about nothing earth-shaking, it was a memorable and, yes, precious exchange. Life is short. A blip. You know, at the end of the day, what I really want is to make my little blip count for something. The way my dad did.

1 comment:

James Robert Smith said...

Life is, indeed, very short. Enjoy it.