I’m on a countdown to my birthday, one of those birthdays with a zero in it. I should be joyful, I have decided, to have reached this milestone. Forty four years ago, about six weeks before my dad turned 60, he died.
It was not a total shock as he had chronic leukemia and had only been promised only three to five years after the diagnosis. He lived with the disease just a bit over the three years. He was tired and in pain; however, he worked the day he died. He was watering his beloved cotton plants, working in 100 degree weather all day. He came in at the end of the day, laid down, and never got back up. Friends had to finish the irrigation job. Other friends had to continue the tasks to bring that cotton crop to harvest. Knowing my dad, and his love for his crops, he must have been thinking about how the work would get done when he came in, after dark, feeling so ill. I have inherited that work ethic from him so I can imagine his mind tumbling around what would happen should he not be able to get back up. The doctor said his blood became too thick with red blood cells to continue coursing through his veins. He closed his eyes and let go of this world.
Daddy and I share the same birth month-August-and as this birthday approaches, I am mindful of his death at the age of 59, in the month of June. I have had a sense of trepidation about this birthday, but I have decided to be joyful about it instead. Unlike my dad, I am in excellent health. I have never had to work as hard as my dad did. He always told me to get an education so I wouldn’t have to work hard. I followed that directive, and he was right. My days were busy, crazy, overwhelming at times, but the work was all done indoors, with heating and air conditioning, and little dirt. My biggest health issue was the kids who sneezed and coughed on me. Probiotics helped my immune system. My dad had no such magic potion to keep away the harmful effects of pesticides and chemicals that he used on a daily basis.
No more hiding from 60. No more complaining about getting older. I am going to embrace the age, celebrate my good fortune, and look forward to many more birthday celebrations. I think I can hear my dad cheering from heaven.