I’ve always looked forward to my forties. I remember looking at my parents during their forties: they appeared to be hitting their stride. I remember them being very confident and happy. While I’m certain a lot of that happiness came from the fact that I was finally leaving the nest, I think that it was much more than that. They had an aura about them that I found intriguing. And, I wanted to get to that place myself. Plus, it wasn’t just my parents; I saw the same thing in many other people along the way.
Fast-forward a few years and I find myself at 43, and I think I finally understand what I saw in my parents all those years ago. Experience. I would have never understood this only 10 years ago, but now I get it. And, it’s as good as I had anticipated.
But, there is one part that I didn’t plan for. Getting older is a pain in the backside, literally. It’s bad enough that your eyesight starts getting a little fuzzy. Then bumps and bruises begin to take a little longer to heal. But the real pain in the ol’ bum is when Dr. Bigfinger has you bend over the examination table. Every guy knows what I’m talking about. We start making nervous jokes about colonoscopies and prostate exams in our mid-thirties. But this is just a coping mechanism for the inevitable.
Alas, my time recently came. I went to my doctor for a routine physical. He put me through several procedures and tests and everything was checking out fine. Then he asked if I would like to have my prostate checked. I told him I was quite sure I would not like to have it checked, and asked him if I needed to have it checked. He explained that it was a good idea. No sooner had I given him an unsure, noncommittal yes, than he committed me without hesitation.
A few weeks later I was visiting my father. He’d been fighting colon cancer for almost four years and it was now getting the better of him. Mentally, he was as sharp as he’d always been. But physically, he had deteriorated and was now confined to a wheelchair. Despite these difficulties, we had a great weekend together. We talked about old times, good times, bad times and everything in-between. During one conversation, he stopped mid-sentence, looked at me and said, “Have you had your colonoscopy yet? If I would have had mine I wouldn’t be sitting in this chair.” That was all he said about that. He had no self-pity at all in his voice, but he was serious.
I returned home the next day and made an appointment with my doctor and had the test. Dad passed away a few weeks later. I spoke with him on the phone three days before he died. The last thing he ever asked me was if I had my colonoscopy. He was happy when I told him that yes, I did, and everything was fine. I was happy to know that I’ll never be too old to learn from my dad.
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