If I seemed angry while I visited for four weeks, it’s because I was.
If you got the impression that I wasn’t interested in spending time with you, you were wrong. I’ve been tucking away my love for you and methodically putting distance between us in the name of self-protection. It’s a magnified version of not naming a pet for fear of losing it. My unpleasantness blew from an ice-cold cave of fear inside me. I see how losing your own mother in your fifties affected and still affects you, so I can only imagine how loudly my heart would crack if I had to cope with your death prematurely.
It’s no secret that for years, you’ve been neglecting yourself. Before I had kids, it upset me tremendously but I mostly kept quiet, save for an occasional combative outburst. Now I have two little creatures with adoration for you in their eyes; the thought of having to tell them what their kind, silly grandfather was like is too heavy a burden. I want them to experience you first-hand.
So now, I’ll use my big girl words to tell you how your choices are affecting me.
You overeat and make abysmal food choices daily, presumably because no one ever taught you how to voice your emotions, instead you eat them. I’ve never heard you say a feeling word. Ever. That would make me snack seven times in the two hours between work and dinner, too. (Yes, I counted.) Sad, mad, scared, and happy would do; I understand that anguished, enraged, petrified, and delighted will likely never be a part of your lexicon, even though I know you could easily define them. I know it’s wishful thinking, but I would forego a winning lottery ticket to give you the ability to talk about having a dead mother, a wife with a debilitating chronic illness, a daughter with grandchildren living thousands of miles away, and a long string of careers that never fulfilled you like your first one.
You under-exercise, even though you are religiously at the gym every morning. Newsflash: your workout routine needs defibrillating.
Either you’re not telling your doctor the truth, he’s not telling it to you, or his M.D. was printed on his desktop inkjet.
But this isn’t a medical record; parroting what you already know isn’t going to change anything.
What I can do, however, is put your symptoms into a real-world context. My world. My children’s world. You can barely climb a flight of stairs without having to rest. You couldn’t take down the fake Christmas tree in one try. Bending over is difficult. I can hear you breathing from the next room when you pick up a dropped book. The last time I saw you, almost a year ago, even in the middle of a gout flareup you were healthier than you are now. In the hours you are home, you hardly move from your favorite chair. The state of your health shocks me. From what I know, it is entirely alterable. There are people older than you still running marathons, swimming for hours, doing yoga, commuting by bike. Your age is still too small a number to be an excuse.
If you are reading this shaking your head, you can stop now and keep barrelling down the course you’re on. If you’re interested in seeing your grandchildren grow up, go see a dietician. Follow his/her advice. I’m guessing one of the recommendations will be to food log. Don’t lie. Frequent a different doctor’s office. Don’t lie there either. Start permanently using a physical trainer. You know all that money you two have saved up for retirement? This is where you start spending it.
This is my one-woman intervention. I want to ask you to do this for me, for your grandson and granddaughter, but I can’t. In the end, it has to be for you. I suspect that once you love you as much as we do, the rest will follow.
Still A Daddy’s Girl,