Thursday, December 02, 2010

Life is Precious

My 84-year-old dad took a fall last week, on Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Broke his left arm just below the shoulder socket, took eight stitches over his right eye, might have a cracked or bruised rib, and has some pretty good strawberries on his right knee.

All in all, it could have been a lot worse. He's had a hip replacement already, and he could have done some serious damage to that or the other hip. Funny thing is, his replaced hip feels better after the fall than it did before. He says it was kinda sore for some weeks before hand, and now it feels great.

Go figure.

I went to visit him today before work. I took some fresh coffee, which he seemed to enjoy. Mainly though, he just needed to visit and talk.

He told me again about the fall, how it happened so quickly and how helpless and confused he felt. His left arm is immobilized in a sling, and his vision has gotten even worse since the fall. What vision he did have around the periphery is disappearing quickly into an even fuzzier haze than before.

It's got to hell getting old, ya know?

He recounted how he used to be able to take a fall at a full run and tumble out of it and keep going. He's been on scaffolding that collapsed and sort of surfed it to the ground safely.

That was about 45 or 50 years ago, but the memories of the ability are still there, obviously.

As we talked I was reminded just how fragile we are, as human beings, and just how quickly what we have can be taken away from us.

Life. Health. Eyesight. Movement. All of it can be stripped away in a moment.

I know this holiday season there are others who have experienced even more shattering accidents.

A young man died on Highway 99 in Elk Grove this morning in a vehicle accident.

An entire family I know at work was in a wreck last week in Modesto, putting the dad in critical condition and scattering the rest of the family to three different hospitals.

A good friend at work lost his brother just last week to a brain tumor that came without warning to steal away the life of a healthy and hale man in just a few short months.

Life is fragile. Enjoy it and live it as much as you can while you're here. 

I'm realizing, at 46 years old, that I've probably got fewer days ahead than I do behind.  I want to live them well, and spend them loving on my girls (all of them, old and new), my grandchildren (on the way, after all), my parents and family (while I've got them), and my new bride-to-be who looks to me with such love in her eyes.  

When life gives me the chance, I want to dance, ya know?

How can I do less?

Tim McGraw sang it well when he said, 

I went sky diving
I went Rocky Mountain climbing
I went 2.7 seconds on a bull named FuManchu
and I loved deeper and I spoke sweeter
and I gave forgiveness I'd been denying
and he said someday I hope you get the chance
to live like you were dying.

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