On Turning 60 And Keeping Promises


60? 60? 60!! This was never supposed to be. It was never written like this. Not 60.  When I was a kid, I thought that if I lived to be 17 that would be a big deal. When I hit 17, I figured that 19 was the mark that I was looking for. Growing up in a world of violence, I was raised to be violent and I was pretty good at it. Even though I took on guys that were bigger and stronger than me, I never backed down. If I got knocked down, I always got back up. I would beat opponents by the sheer fact that I wore them down. It would be a trait that would serve me well as I grew older. When I hit the 19 year mark I figured that 27 would be a ripe old age. And then, life threw me a curve ball and we had our first child a year later. Suddenly, everything changed. I was now responsible for not one, not two but three lives on planet Earth.

But, you know, we are all wired a specific way and it’s very hard to change that wiring.  I continued to move through life like a bull in a china shop. My ‘type A’ personality convinced me that it was the right thing to do, the detractors be damned! Through it all, we had a blast. And, I didn’t think twice about working hard or living hard, I figured that guys were supposed to do that. If I got myself into a jam, I knew that I could get out of it.

It had always worked before. But, sooner or later, you have to realize that one day you’re going to go to the well and come up empty. And then, Life came along and knocked me down and I had no way of getting up.

My wife had been hospitalized, couldn’t oxygenate her blood at one of the best hospitals in the country. An afternoon visit becomes overnight, then two days, then three. I know she’s dying and I can’t do anything for her. The years of neglecting my blood pressure had come to a head that night. I went to sleep presumably in good health and woke up paralyzed. In that four hour window, life as I knew it would never be the same. My wife, it turned out, would be fine. I, on the other hand, looked like I’d been hit by a bus. For the first time in my life, I would be completely dependent on others.

The years and years of getting back up off the pavement served me well for my therapy.  I became relentless because I knew that our daughter was going to get married and I wanted to walk her down the aisle. But the stroke had killed something inside of me—my ‘type A’ personality. And people would become almost sacred to me, their lives, their families, their stories. I couldn’t wait to meet new people, try new things, and on and on.

I had a second chance at life, but I had to take a trip to death’s door to figure it out. One of the lines that I kept repeating while I was in the hospital was ‘Life is good- there is much to be thankful for.’ It’s Yiddish but it makes sense in any dialect.

While I danced with our daughter at her wedding, I promised her that I would be around to dance at her children’s weddings. All this from a guy who never thought he’d live to be 19. I think I’ll stick around and see what’s around the next corner—it should be very interesting.

At least, that’s the way I see it. MLProko ©2010    www.mikeproko.com

Published in: on March 24, 2010 at 1:15 am  Leave a Comment  
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