My Dad and Mortality

Robbie William’s new song Candy is a song I don’t really get. I like it, I just don’t understand it. And the video doesn’t help. But it has the line “And if don’t feel good what are you doing this for?” I want you to consider that question as you read my post.

The other day my dad told me that he has had a good life, and that if he were to suddenly die that I should not be too sad for him. That took me by surprise, and made the rest of the drive rather uncomfortable. My dad is 50, and although that is not very old, he is the oldest male we can find in his genetic family: older than his dad and granddad (who both died at 49) and older than his great granddad.

My dad is a fit man, but he seems convinced that he is the kind of fit that fit people are when you hear of a fit person unexpectedly dying. There’s probably elements of truth in that. My dad is a muscular gym-monkey kind of fit; he has spent most of his life as a regular gym-goer doing short bouts of intense exercise. That puts a lot of strain on the heart, and he doesn’t do a lot of cardiovascular exercise to keep his heart fit enough to keep up with that. On top of that, he has the kind of high-biscuit and donut diet that gives the heart more work to do.

So my dad worries that his exercise and diet have done the damage and that one day soon he will be squatting 230kg, have a massive heart attack, die, drop the weights on himself and have to be buried in two halves. But apparently he doesn’t worry enough to stop. That must class as a sort of addiction; “I know it’s killing me, but whatever.”

When my dad told me he was staring into his own mortality and that he may die at any time I had a strange response: “Don’t do that; try to be immortal, for me.” And that started to tease out the real issues: my dad is relieved that he is mortal. The reason I should not be “too sad” when my dad dies isn’t because he is content with life, it’s because “this shit will end.”

I’m home alone at the moment because my dad went to London with the family to meet friends, and I am making sure the house doesn’t flood. I don’t know how I’m meant to stop the house from flooding, I am not a sandbag. But nonetheless, I am home alone on the pretence of being flood defence.  And there’s not a lot to do. I’ve spent the day evaluating my life reflected in my mortality.

I assume I am mortal; everyone who has ever lived has been mortal. I’ve been ill, which is strange trait for someone who is immortal. So I’m probably mortal. If I died tomorrow, in my last seconds would I think “I am content” or would I think “this shit will end”? I don’t know the answer, but I’m in a dark place at the moment and I worry that it would be the latter.

I’m taking some steps to change that. I applied for a TEFL job today with English in Action, a company that sends you out on short bursts of teaching and then you come home. If I get that I will have some more experiences that hopefully will make me feel more content than feel like I’m struggle through, waiting for “this shit” to end.

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