Monday, December 29, 2008

Please take care of yourself

I implore all of you out there in blog-land: please, make a commitment to yourself, and to your family, to take better care of yourself.

I'm off work today, because I'm getting ready to attend yet another family funeral.

The second in two weeks.

Thursday night, we'd gone to my cousin's house for Christmas. His older brother lives next door, and their dad lives with the older brother. Consequently, I was able to see my uncle - my mom's brother who is just older than her, and the same age as my dad - for the first time in many months.

The first thing I said to my mom as we left was, "Mom, Uncle Joel looks really bad."

She said she saw in his eyes that he wasn't doing well. We knew he wouldn't be with us much longer.

Fast-forward to Saturday afternoon. In an odd turn of events, all of my family (well, besides the brother in Montana) was at my mom's house. (Despite the fact that two of my siblings have moved back home, and I live five miles away, that doesn't happen too often.)

My dad, my brother, and Jason were outside working on various vehicles. Amanda, Anna Marie, my mom, and I were inside. My dad walks in, calls my mom's name. When she stands up at the alarmed tone in his voice, he tells her to sit back down.

Her brother was dead.

My cousin had just called my dad to tell him that his older brother had tried to wake their dad up around noon, and he was unresponsive. The ambulance was unable to revive him - he was already gone.

He was 57 years old, but he looked about 77 when I saw him Thursday night. I remember looking at his hands as we sat around the dining room table talking, and the skin had the pale, translucent look of a much older person. He was wheelchair-bound and on oxygen, and he had lost a lot of weight.

The saddest thing about this is that he had told one of his other sisters on Thursday that he realized he had brought his health problems upon himself.

My uncle and my dad were friends in high school, a scheme which I'm sure my dad perpetrated to get closer to my (too-young-to-date) mother. The friendship stuck, though, and they were as close as any two brothers would be. But my uncle spent too many of his years in the proverbial "hard living" stage.

Although he had cleaned up in the past few years, the damage to his body was already done.

One of my cousins, who lives in New England and hadn't been home in several years asked me if he'd had cancer. No, but he had a host of other problems - cirrhosis, emphysema, diabetes, hepatitis - that were directly traceable to his lifestyle choices.

His sons buried their mother (he had since divorced her) two years ago, for much the same reasons. Those boys - we'll, they're 25 and nearly 40, but they're still boys to me - are minus both parents at much too early an age.

My uncle had survived Vietnam, but was done in by what he did after he returned.

So as we approach this new year, and people are evaluating what they've done in the past and what they hope to accomplish in the future, please, if not for your sake, then for the sake of your family - take care of yourself!

You've got a lot of living left to do.


doodlebugmom said...

My sympathy to you on the loss of your uncle.

Thanks for the reminder. Its easy to think I will excersize tomorrow or eat better next week. None of us are promised tomorrow.

Valerie said...

oh sweetie, i'm so sorry for your family's loss. life is a precious gift, and every day we need to remember that.

Heather @ Desperately Seeking Sanity said...

I'm sorry to hear about your losses, however, the message that you bring is not falling on deaf ears. The boy and I joke all the time about getting old, but the reality of it is, we are getting old. I'm not, and have never, really, taken care of myself, physically. And I'm starting to fall apart. I have the bones of a 55 year old woman and I'm losing feeling in my arm off and on. I've been talking about making a doctor's appointment for a few weeks now, but haven't, much to the dismay of the health nut boy. But I just called.

My dad is 53 years old and his health is deteroriating. Eight years ago the doctors told us that by now he would be in a wheel chair and while he's not (he's too stubborn) it could be possible. He's working double time now to correct the problems that could've been prevented if he didn't think that he was invincible.

Unfortnatly, my dad and I are very much alike, and I still tend to think that I'm invincible.

So the boy and I have some new years resolutions. Some of them are the same and involve healthier eating... not necessarily losing weight, but watching my cholesterol which is bad, and making sure that I am getting the vitamins that I need.

Some of them are separate, like I'm not going to run with him... lol... I have to draw the line somewhere.

Anywho, I've got diarreah of the fingers today when it comes to leaving comments, so I'll end it here. I just wanted to let you know that I'm hearing you. Loud and clear.

I love when God uses my friends to speak to me. He knows that most of the time, I'll listen.


Lissete said...

Sorry for your loss.

Paige said...

I'm sorry for your loss. But the funeral sounds like it went well. Thank goodness your family all stepped up. God bless, and happy New year.