Monday, April 11, 2011

Sixty Six Plus Sixteen

Today marks a milestone for me as it is the sixteenth day after my sixty sixth birthday. The number has been on my mind for quite awhile, not so much as a goal but as a day of significance to me personally. I knew that if I woke up this morning, this sixteenth day after my sixty sixth birthday,  it would mean that I had outlived the duration of my father's life. He died on the fifteenth day following his sixty sixth birthday. It's been fairly easy for me to do the calculations of the formulas above because 1) I remember my father's birthday was March 11th, and 2) my father died on my birthday, March 26th, forty years ago.

The King ancestors I have descended from don't have too great a record in longevity, not the men, anyway. My father's father died when he was 59. His father died at 60 years of age. His father died when he was just 49 years old! And, finally, when we go back one more generation, my 3rd great grandfather somehow managed to survive to 107 years old!  Maybe he used up more than his share of the old age genes?  Here's hoping a few snuck through and are lodged somewhere within the epidermal layer of my internal timer. Only time will tell.

My father died of a heart attack. It was his third one in the last ten years or so of his life and the final one was severe. He hung on for weeks after suffering the attack, hospitalized in a town in Florida just a few miles from the small town where he was born and raised until he was about 15.  The doctors told us his heart was very weak and he would be "severely impaired" for quite some time if he survived. I sure couldn't correlate that diagnosis with his appearance and demeanor.  When I saw him he was tired and resting in his hospital bed but seemed alert, cheerful, and couldn't understand what all the fuss was about. He spent his 66th birthday in that hospital and as I've noted, fifteen days later he died. He wasn't very active physically in his job as a clergyman. I recall seeing him participate in a limited way in sports, more as a social endeavor than for physical conditioning. He would join me and my friends to shoot hoops on the basketball backboard mounted on our garage, but it meant he had to undo his tie and roll up the sleeves of his starched white dress shirt. And at church outings he would play baseball but, again, just in a limited way to share the socialization part of it all rather than to display any prowess. He loved the Red Sox and found business purposes requiring his presence in Boston from time to time, which wisely he combined with visits to Fenway Park. An althlete, he was not, but he was an intellectual superstar when it came to reading, researching, studying, and all the things related to supporting his ministerial duties. But physical exertion in the years I knew him, the 1950's and 1960's, wasn't part of many men's lives unless you count bowling and drinking beer. He did neither. So it's not surprising his heart didn't get the exercise it needed and gave out on him at 66 years of age.

I don't know the causes of death for any of our King ancestors. I have pictures of my grandfather and he looks pretty trim and fit. My father wasn't fat but he might have been mildly overweight. To my teenage eyes I classified him as fat.  In pictures I can see now that he wasn't fat at all.  Just inactive. I'm the one shaped like a pear with some serious love handles mushrooming around my waist. But I do stay active with stretching, weights, calisthenics, and walking. Occasionally I'll jog and have done a few 5k runs employing both walking and jogging. But my ankles and my back are quick to report back to me that walking is the preferred method of exercise.  And I try to listen to my body.  So far, my MDS hasn't contributed any symptoms to alert me of a problem. So at this point, myelodysplasia is just a theoretical infliction, making itself known through blood cell measurements but not affecting my day to day activities.  So far so good on that front.

I could have put these thoughts on my genealogy blog but I think it rightly belongs to my blahs...just spewing out nonsense about things on my mind. And lately, mortality is on my mind.  Not in a depressing or morose manner, just out there to be considered from time to time. Yup. Sixty Six big ones. And so far, still living. Think I'll try to stay on this path for awhile longer. I'm not putting a number on it. No goals. Just a lot more time.  I've got a few more things I want to hang around for.