When I’m 64
“Hey Dad, you think you’ll live to be 100,” my son asked me tonight?
I looked down a bit confuzzled (to use their term) and he must have realized.
“I mean, I think Grandma and Grandpa will live that long. They have, what, forty years until then?”
“Well…I don’t think it’s that long. 100 is a big number, kiddo, and my grandpa Manoucheri only lived to 80 or so. On my Mom’s side Grandma got to her 90’s.”
He was a bit thoughtful on this.
“I think you’ll do it. You’ve lost weight and you eat really healthy now.”
I didn’t have the heart to tell him otherwise. It’s a nice dream to think you’ll live to be 100, I suppose.
The bigger issue, though, for a kid of 11 who lost his Mom 3 1/2 years ago is the fact that there’s an expiration date. True, none of us know what that date is, but we all have one. It’s just a matter of when and where it hits. To tell your son the old adage “we’re all dying from the moment we are born” is a poor way of explaining that there’s a tiny percentage of people that live to be 100. Still . . . it’s a comfort to me that he sees me trying harder and harder to give us better meals, better foods and little or no fast food. This means, in his eyes, that I’m trying.
I’m trying to feel better about myself.
I’m trying to make sure that they eat more homemade stuff. That doesn’t mean bad-tasting crappy carob-filled rather than chocolate desserts but more homemade stuff.
I’m trying to set an example.
I’m trying to give us more opportunities to be together.
And the most important one:
I’m trying to make sure I’m around for them as long as is feasible.
That may sound a little odd, like I’m being a bit conceited, but it’s not. There’s no Lazarus syndrome going on here for me, I don’t want to raise the dead or live forever. However, the biggest thing is that my kids saw mortality straight in the face. They saw that people can, at the ripe young age of 40, pass away for the most random of reasons. Their Mom is gone and there was no rhyme or reason to it. But if they see their Dad healthier, trying to improve all of our health then maybe they are more comfortable with the fact and they’re not worried that something can take their Dad or sister or brother away from them.
That…and I was just as scared as they were, I have to admit. When going up the stairs was an aerobic experience I knew things weren’t right. When I woke up exhausted it was a terrible feeling.
So yes…I woke up one morning and decided it was time. First it was walking…then running/walking. Let me go on-record: I really dislike having to exercise. I don’t commune with nature during it, I put in headphones, put on music with really loud guitars l that keeps my blood pumping and cannot wait for the process to be over. But I’m motivated to do it, both for my health and for the mental health of my kids.
Tonight I got home and my son asked if we could go for a walk.
“Why, kiddo, there’s a lot to do tonight.”
“I just wanted to go outside and move around,” was his response. His siblings agreed. That is an exercise I’ll enjoy. Watching them walk through a creek or follow the hummingbirds around is not exercise. It’s fun.
So when my son wonders if I or my parents will make it to 100, I smile, pat him on the head, and give him a hug.
“We can only hope, kiddo.”
(Then I hum the Beatles’ When I’m 64 for the rest of the night)