San Antonio Sunset

Yesterday we all went down to San Antonio to spend some time with [Dad McMains->]. He’s glad to be back home, and has been repeatedly surprised with the number of people who have come from various quarters to lend aid and support. Many folks for whom Dad did some small favor many years back have sent flowers and cards, shown up at the hospital and at home, and volunteered to help with typing and paperwork. Closer friends have stopped by to install blinds in the bedroom, offered to help drive Dad around, and have stocked the freezer to help ease things for the family.

One of the risk factors for stroke that Dad showed was high blood pressure. In order to get that down and reduce the risk of recurrence, Dad’s going on a low-sodium diet. There’s a phenomenal amount of sodium on the average American’s menu, so this represents a pretty significant change in eating habits for him, as it would for most of us. We sampled his no-salt sesame sticks (not bad), no-salt tortilla chips (rather worse), and his potassium-based table salt substitute (altogether funky). I made some salsa without salt for him while we were there to help blunt the blandness of the tortilla chips.

Another aspect of the blood pressure control regimen is regular exercise. Toward that end, we all went out for a walk through the neighborhood about an hour before dusk last night. [Liam->] was holding hands with both Dad and I as we walked. Occasionally, as children do, he would pick up both feet so we’d lift him, the load split between me and my father, and carry him for a few steps before setting him down again. Then, he’d start kicking both feet up in the air, and Dad would give him a little push so that his center of gravity would make it over the top, and he’d do a backflip before landing again.

And suddenly, I was immensely grateful for this moment: walking side by side with the father whom I love, splitting the load of carrying my boy, three generations enjoying the coolness of the evening and the closeness of family. The recentness of the stroke only brought home again the fact that, in spite of what we often fool ourselves into believing, we’re not ultimately in control of our own lives. That knowledge makes the times like these that we do have that much sweeter, and imparts a sense of urgency to the task of making sure the things we should say don’t go unsaid.

To that end: I love you Dad, admire you, and I’m awfully glad we get to enjoy this chapter of our lives together.