My family stopped playing two-on-two basketball after my oldest brother joined the Marines and I went to college. Soon after, my dad started working out in 2009. My mom sent me an e-mail that mentioned this change: “Dad has been exercising.”

My dad started jogging, racing around the block with his iPod blaring. He compiled a workout playlist that contains songs such as Sweet Emotion by Aerosmith, Spirit of the Radio by Rush, and Renegade by Styx. Afterward he chugged a bottle of knock-off Gatorade.

At the time, my two younger brothers were about 9 and 7. They were around the same age as I was when I started playing basketball.

“I just want to be alive to put your younger brothers through college,” Dad said and laughed.

When I came home during my junior year, my dad had a bandage on his face, a rectangle cloth from his hairline to near his left eye. The doctors had found skin cancer and cut it out. Dad joked about it.

“Now I look like Frankenstein,” he said.

I was scared by the cancer. I realized my dad was not invulnerable or immortal. We may say our parents are mortal … but do we truly believe it until we see the bandages?

During last Thanksgiving break, I watched my dad threw the football to my youngest brothers in the backyard. I’ve always warmly called my two youngest brothers “the little guys,” but they aren’t small anymore. They’re getting long and lanky and fast.

My dad is 5’10 and 170 pounds. He’s thicker than I am, a strong old oak compared to a tall lithe sapling. He still runs, still listens to Rush on his iPod. He’s fifty-three now. If my youngest brother attends college, my dad will be sixty-three when my brother graduates.

My dad isn’t afraid of death, but he doesn’t want to leave his family. He doesn’t want to die before his kids graduate from college. He was confronted by his mortality.

“My goal is to live one day longer than your mother,” my dad said. “That way I won’t have to worry how she will be taken care of once I’m gone.”

Leave a comment


  1. Anonymous

     /  March 8, 2012

    This is so true. I went through a similar scenario last year with my mom. Everything is all right now, but at the time it was really different to be confronted by the fact my parents won’t be around forever. Thanks for sharing that!

    • Thanks for the comment. It was a very sobering moment for me, but it was much better because of how my dad is dealing with it.

  2. Take care of your body. It’s the only place you have to live. Jim Rohn


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