This is not an easy post to write for me as it comes on the 4th anniversary of the loss of my Dad, it also happens to be his birthday. He would have been 65. The title of this article is what I truly believe, more now as a parent then ever before. As a parent, many of you know all we want is to be there for our children. We want to be able to comfort them when they are down, celebrate with them when they win, and laugh at past memories. My dad loved his family very much and he would do whatever it took to make sure we not only had what we needed, but we also had a lot of what we wanted. At times working 3 jobs. I haven’t met anyone who would out work my dad, rarely ever calling off sick.
I was a high school athlete and even had the privilege of playing college football and one season of indoor football. My father never missed a game - even as a subpar college athlete my dad was there. Through high school he would even show up to practices and watch, at the time I thought it was embarrassing, now I’d give anything for him to show up to anything.
As much as I thought I was my dad's favorite child, it quickly changed when Kylie; the first grandkid, was born. Before long my dad was blessed with 7 grandkids who he loved, and oh did they love them. My dad was a sports guy, especially football, and when Shane, my son, suited up for the first time, the joy in my dad’s eyes was unexplainable. He would show up to his practices, help coach the kids, and was always on the sidelines cheering him on. He was this way with all the grandkids and the sports they played.
It was a warm day in February 2015, and you get a call that you do not want to get, your dad has been admitted to the hospital, he has had a stroke. While at work, my mother received a phone call from my dads boss who said he was sick and that she could come get him. My mom said he resembled a drunk person. Yet while suffering a stroke my dads stubbornness did not want her to call an ambulance, he didn’t even want to leave work. My youngest sister called the ambulance after talking to my mom. While in the hospital making his recovery the doctor had mentioned that it appeared that my dad had previously suffered a stroke. He was also diagnosed with type two diabetes.
My parents did not eat well at all, it would be nothing for my dad to drink a 12 pack of Pepsi a day. He worked hard in a physical job as an electrician but did no exercise outside of that. But the stroke scared him, it scared my mom, hell it scared me. My dad and mom drastically changed their diets - something that I never thought would have happened previously. My mom started walking, and my dad finally was relaxing during his medical leave from work.
Fast forward to the end of April, near the beginning of May 2016, and my dad goes back to work against the advice of the doctor. He was looking and feeling better. I’m not quite sure why he decided to return to work so early, maybe money, maybe he was going stir crazy from not working, probably a little bit of both. Regardless of why, everything seemed to be going great.
May 16, 2016; my dads birthday, I didn’t call because he was going to try and make it to Shane’s baseball game. He and my mom where going to run some errands first. While Shane and I were driving home from his baseball game, an ambulance came flying by us at an intersection. 30 seconds later, my brother in law calls me asking where I am, and that I need to get to the urgent care, there was something wrong with my dad. My dad had passed out in the car and my mom pulled into the urgent care parking lot to get help. The ambulance that passed me was on the way to pick up my dad. He had suffered a massive heart attack, and his heart was not beating when the ambulance got there. The drive from the urgent care to the hospital is roughly a 15 minute. It took the paramedics the entire drive to the hospital to get his heart to start beating again. He went into surgery, his heart stopping several times. After he came out of surgery, his heart had stopped for the final time.
I am not telling this story to make people sad, I don’t even know if being a healthier person would have changed anything, but I do think it would have given him a better chance of being around longer for his kids and grandkids. Being healthy and fit was not important to my parents; their children, grandchildren, and family were. I wish everyone could experience the love my parents gave us. If I could ask of you one thing, please learn from his mistakes. I know my mom has learned from the loss, she was pre diabetic shortly after my dad passed away, but her diet has improved, and she continues to walk. She's lost weight and moved out of the prediabetic category.
Place priority on your health, this does not mean you have to eat bland food, and be in the gym 7 days a week. Start with walking 10 minutes a day, like my mom did. Do not restrict tons of food, make subtle changes, and over time as new habits begin to form, then make more adjustment and subtle changes. Over time you will be feeling better, and living healthier.
If you need help living a healthier life, making small changes, or have experienced loss and want to talk about it please email me at Jeff.Oiler3@gmail.com.