Sunday, June 14, 2009

Life is for the Living and You'll Be A Long Time Dead

I know that this blog is about food but it's also about life and living it well. And despite the fact that I am a Registered Dietitian, writer and a host of other things (some of which I will not discuss), I may have missed my calling in the philosophy department. In all my years of school I did not take one philosophy class but somehow I manage to espouse my ideas almost daily.

The title of this post however is dedicated to my father who just passed away last week. Those were his words, and with that in mind, I'd like to share a little bit about my Dad, Bernie.

Bernie loved to eat, and when you look at photos of him over the years, you can tell when he really liked to eat food that was not very good for him, as he looked heavy. When he was in his 50s, he likely had a silent heart attack, confirmed later by doctors. He wanted to know what to do so my sister sent him Dr. Dean Ornish's first book on reversing heart disease.

My father was a voracious reader and a bit of a fanatic, so he followed Ornish's advice for quite some time. After doing so when he went back to the doctor, he'd managed to regrow capillaries to his heart. My Dad was also into exercise and used the Nordic Track like a madman for many years.

He'd often ask me for advice regarding what to eat and saw how I followed a vegetarian diet and leaned in that direction.

Luckily as he got older, he slowed down just a bit on the exercise and got a dog, a Boston terrier named Sweetie, that he walked daily until just a few months ago. He also mowed the lawn often, which was a lot of work on more than an acre of property.

After the Ornish plan, my Dad ate pretty well, including lots of fresh food, made by my mother who likes to cook and has a garden. A few years ago, I sent my father a copy of The China Study by Colin Campbell. He then adopted a vegan diet, and said that he felt better than ever. And that might have been true for awhile.

Last year he was diagnosed with prostate cancer. If his doctors had been paying attention, they would have likely caught the cancer earlier as my Dad's PSA level was elevated. He also had GI problems, caused by a hospital stay, and likely needed Vitamin B12 shots but didn't receive those either.

The moral of this story is as Sandy Lewis, MD, the cardiologist from Portland, who shared the Super Shuttle to the Denver airport as I left to go to the funeral, said, "No one gets out alive."

So, I encourage you to treat each day as if it could be your last. Find something to be grateful for, appreciate the people around you, and enjoy fresh food, clean air (if you've got it), nature, your pets, your work, and life in general. There are no bad days, just some are better than others. They all give perspective and a frame of reference.

When I'd ask my Dad how things were going, he'd usually say, "It's better than the alternative." When he stopped saying anything like that, I knew what was in store. The end isn't usually easy, so in the words of Jennifer Stone of KPFA radio, "Go easy. And if you can't go easy, go as easy as you can."

Bernie reminded his 3 daughters that life is not a popularity contest but that kindness, generosity and sharing wisdom all count. And I hope that what I've shared with you today has an impact in some way.

Smile, enjoy, live well -- it's the best revenge.

7 comments:

Sharon said...

I am so sorry for your loss. Your post is so uplifting and a great reminder of what is really important about life.

The Veggie Queen said...

Sharon,

It's so easy to get bogged down in the details and forget that we must be thankful for each day. I appreciate your caring.

Jill

TRISTA said...

Thank you for the personal story about your father. The insight he inspired you to write, "There are no bad days, just some are better than others. They all give perspective and a frame of reference." was something I needed to hear right now. On my Culinate blog, I just posted something about needing to be open to other lessons from food...I think you just provided one. Thank you, and best wishes to you and your sisters as you learn to navigate a world without your father present.

The Veggie Queen said...

Trista,

I appreciate your comment. I feel that my purpose in life is to help people get in touch with joy and life spirit. It's all around us. Happy that this touched you. Thank you for your caring.

Jill

katierall said...

Jill,
I am sorry to hear about your Dad's passing. As my own Dad gets older & more frail I think about this & am glad that my Dad has lived well & is (still) enjoying his journey. It sounds like your Dad did also. His quote sounds like something my Dad would say. Thanks for sharing about him --- he sounds like a remarkable man. Peace & Love, Katie

Kathryn said...

I'm sorry for your loss ... your dad sounds like an incredible man full of wisdom. Thank you for sharing some of his pearls for living.

wilkwise said...

Sorry to hear about your Dad. I know it is difficult to lose ones father. My father passed away about 5 years ago, although it seems so recent. I lost my mother on May 8th of this year and my brother on January 16th of this year.

All the best, Sharon