Talk about Motivation
There I was talking with my daughter, Kristin, about my living will. I cannot explain fully why I am so open about discussing death and dying. Obviously, I am 72 and have danced with death twice, which would explain most of my interest in dotting my i's and crossing the t's.
Case in point. I have to face the reality that just because George Burns and I were both born on January 20 does not mean that I will necessarily realize my goal of outliving him. Nevertheless, I still stay in shape, eat correctly, and take care of myself. In this way, I will do what I can to obtain my longevity goal of besting Burns.
However, seven years ago, I danced with death twice. Having been able to lead death in both past dances will continue ad infinitum. Eventually, death will lead. I have dealt with that reality; I live my life to the fullest. Go to my index page of articles and look to the right side of the page. You will find fifteen Critical Issues links. Look at any of these links: Connecting the Dots, Darkest Before Dawn, The Last Lecture, Dancing with Death, and The Hand May Be a Little Child's. You will find scores and scores of essays addressing where I have emerged in my twilight years.
Additionally, five years ago another phenomenon occurred. Jack was born, and, two years later, Owen, his brother, was born. Those two boys have added a great incentive to living life to its fullest. What I considered a very good Weltanschauung (worldview) prior to their births has been put on steroids because of those two grandchildren. While I love my three children and my granddaughter, who are all adults, it is different with Jack and Owen. One of my major drives is to be around for them to be able to remember fully that their papa truly loved them for just who they are.
I want to live my life to the fullest, which means to enjoy all my family as long as I can. That being said, I do not want to live life as a vegetable. Having a living will is my means to tell my family to pull the plug when necessary. I do not want to be remembered as a father or grandfather as some less than human in some nursing home connected to tubes. I have had a good life and cannot ask for more. I have attempted to help my family and others as we walk down that road of life.
Kristin has heard my ultimatum about pulling the plug for years. This little chat was essentially an unnecessary reminder. Better yet, it was also a warning not to put it in unless I can function fully as a result of that medical treatment.
Now, why I made my next comment to Kristin, I do not know. I merely asked, given that I am not immortal, I asked her how many more years did she think that I be around? I thought that was a fair question. I am healthy, exercise every day, and take care of myself. All that I wanted was her guess about my longevity.
Kristin hedged answering my question. Therefore, I repeated it with this goofy comment, "I'm not going to hold you to it, but do you see me living for 10, 20, or more years?" That was pretty blunt and to the point. However, it was clear that she was not willing to answer. Being the loving father, I backed off and started to change the subject.
Ayanna, her daughter and my granddaughter, was sitting there listening silently to the conversation but not saying anything. I did not expect a comment, but she chimed in with her question, "Do you want my answer?" My response was, "Sure, how many years do I have?"
Then came this sentence from Ayanna who is twenty years old, "I want you to live long enough to see, hold, and play with your great grandchild."
Talk about a comment that impacts one's life! Here was my granddaughter telling me that she wanted her child in some distant time to have time with me. Words cannot express just how that one sentence rattled me.
I have wrestled with why Jack and Owen have such an impact upon me. However, I never thought about the future in the way that Ayanna was thinking. She always disses marriage and a family. Therefore, I never thought about great grandchildren. The realization that Ayanna was thinking about a future baby and me sent tremors through my psyche.
As I stood there attempting to think about what Ayanna had just stated, this photo was all that I could process at the time. It is a picture of me over 72 years ago. I was only a couple weeks old. My grandfather is standing on one side of my mother and my great grandfather is in the black derby hat on the other side. I see that picture every day in my office.
It has taken me years to attempt to grasp fully the meaning of Jack and Owen's entrance into my life. It will take me even longer to fathom Ayanna's comment, which she obviously had wrestled with herself. Regardless, my drive to outlive George Burns has taken on a new life.
Imagine an additional person in these photos and in my life.
While you try to imagine, I am going out to kayak around the lake for 45-minutes. My exercising on the lake will give me time to think of Bobby Kennedy's comment, "Some men see things as they are and say, why; I dream things that never were and say, why not."
Imagine being a great grandpapa....
Visit the Connecting the Dots page to read more about this topic.
Visit the "The Hand May Be a Little Child's" page to read more about this topic.