September 15, 2009
It has been one month since my mother’s unexpected death left my father alone, full-circle, back to his humble beginning.
My father was born late in the life of his parents. His siblings had graduated or neared graduation from high school at the time of his birth, so he spent much of his youth alone with his horse and rifle. He kept busy with a mare purchased for him as a yearling and a rifle his father had given him to hunt. Always ambitious, at a tender age he began bounty-hunting magpies for the local fish and game department, which kept him in ammunition and taught him the skills of the earth. As he matured, he worked as a ranch-hand and then set off to college to study engineering. He met my mother when he was attending undergraduate school. Although their pairing was unusual, she was refined and he was cowboy-rough, they worked. He matched her brilliance with intensity and passion and she guided him where he was unfamiliar. They both excelled professionally building a life together that included the best of both of their respective worlds. They retired to a ranch in the mountains of my father’s youth with several horses and a collection of rifles appropriate for land he inhabits. With her death, he returns to where he started, alone with his horse(s) and rifle(s) in his native rural home.
Today, I share this blog post with my Dad giving him an opportunity to share the Eulogy that he gave memorializing my mother on what would have been her 68th birthday. Although the sorrow and grief are still fresh, with this post, I wish to put the wind back under his wings with some long view advice:
- Find joy – rekindle the joy of your youth when you found happiness alone with your horse and rifle.
- Stay engaged – constantly move forward and approach life with the passion, energy, and vigor that have always been your trademark.
- Reduce entropy in the world – continue to commit to leaving things better than you found them just as you have always done and taught me to do. Repair the fences, clean the corrals,….
- View the cup as half-full – stay positive and eschew negativity.
- Learn new things – rock your new satellite internet connection and iMac! Perhaps learn to blog?….
- Nurture your friends and community – remember that your four-legged friends count on you and your two-legged friends care.
In memory of Evelyn
“We are gathered here today to pay our last respects to Janet Evelyn and commit her remains to the earth in her wonderful native home. From my simple perspective, Evelyn was relatively young and her passing was totally unanticipated; however, Evelyn and I believe that it is the Lord who decides the time for us to leave this earth and we believed his will shall be done.
Evelyn and I chose to be life’s partners over 50 years ago. Our love for one another was boundless and unending and our primary desire was to be alone together. Our life’s journey together generally involved good times with a few not so good times that we shared equally; however, it was her gentle and steady hand that guided our loving partnership through all of the years and all of life’s issues. Those that knew us recognized that our lives were totally entwined and one should anticipate encountering the two of us, not one or the other. Our uncompromising desire to be together and holding hands on a walk or attending business or social gatherings was, unfortunately, a point of contention for some but as such gave us strength and knowledge that our commitment to one another was many levels above all of our critics and reinforced our desire to be alone where we felt most comfortable. I would argue that our Life’s Journey together was outstanding even if, in my opinion, it was far, far too short.
I feel compelled to briefly tell you that this poor old country boy was born in the living quarters of a rural northwest railroad depot and was a struggling university student at the time that I met Evelyn. I immediately became totally infatuated with this young, intelligent, and accomplished city girl (city girl are my words). She, unlike this country boy, had never ridden horses, never fished mountain streams for trout, never hiked the mountain back country, never hunted deer and elk, or any of the acknowledged rural northwestern traits that boys and, yes, girls from this region were generally familiar. However, this bright, accomplished, and well-read city girl was willing to accept this poor old country boy and all of his failings. I would like to think perhaps to some extent because of my commitment and adoration for her. But, for whatever reason she willingly took my hand and I felt that she joined me just as it is stated in the old Testament Book of Ruth – your people will be my people and thy God my God. She readily accompanied me in all of these foreign endeavors previously unknown to her and she walked by my side and advised me in every aspect, every phase and every issue of our life. I recall the absolute amazement and initial disbelief as well as perhaps horror of her parents when she shot her first deer.
I cannot begin to tell you what this beautiful incredible woman meant to me both as my life’s partner and special confidant.
Allow me to offer a closing prayer before I place her remains into the earth. ‘Dear God Thank You for the gift of her life, for her sweet companionship, and for the cherished memories that endure. God please comfort us as we mourn and grant us strength to see beyond our sorrow and sustain us in our grief. Amen.'”
Dad, remember that the vows, “until death do us part” remind us of the fidelity needed for two lives lived together, but also remind us to move forward when death separates. So, rebuild, rekindle the joy of your youth when you were alone with your horse and rifle, and move forward into new frontiers creating a future that honors not only your own life, but hers. She will not be forgotten.
September 5, 2009
One year ago, as a result of a running hip injury and a prior history of a hip stress fracture (running), my doctor recommended a bone density measurement even though I am young, active, and have no significant risk factors for osteoporosis. Obediently, I went for a DEXA measurement.
Shortly after, my doctor informed me that the good news was that I had not lost any height, but the bad news was that I had osteoporosis. I was shocked.
This diagnosis was opportunity to adjust my lifestyle to improve my long-term skeletal health. As with any significant emergent problem, the long view response is similar:
- Assess priority – does it merit long view investment?
- Define improvement/success metric(s)
- Create a plan for improvement/success
- Execute: drip, drip, drip…
- Measure improvement/success
- Reassess priority (Celebrate improvement/success)
Establishing priority was easy. To ensure my long-term skeletal health, I was immediately committed to aggressively battling this silent disease. Complacency was never an option for an Off-the-Scale-Futurist.
Defining the improvement/success metric was also easy. I needed to increase my bone density to greater than -1.5 spinal t-score (low end of the normal range) as measured by DEXA.
With my doctor, I created a threefold plan for bone density improvement/success:
- Increase mineral availability: take calcium supplements 3×600 mg/day.
- Decrease demineralization: add drug therapy, Boniva 1x/month.
- Increase mineralization: add load-bearing exercise. This required a remix of my athletic lifestyle. My typical regimen of swimming, biking, running, and an occasional cardio machine provided limited load-bearing. Only running counted as load-bearing, and it only loads the lower skeleton. So, I reduced swimming and biking in favor of weight-lifting 2x/week, along with my usual running. After a bit, I realized the combination did not give me the joy of athletics to which I was accustomed, so I went in search of new load-bearing sports. I tried both yoga and rock climbing, both of which provide whole skeletal loading. Although I liked yoga, it didn’t like me (rhomboid strain). I loved rock climbing – it is so addictive that it became the clear winner! 🙂 I now mix a combination of swimming, biking, running, and rock climbing throughout the week, along with weight-lifting 1x/week. I still have joy, but I increased the amount of load-bearing exercise.
Since DEXA bone density is measured no more frequently than annually – I committed to a full year of execution. Keeping the faith, I impatiently and anxiously awaited my next DEXA results, drip, drip, drip, …
I recently received my results and I moved the needle! I went from a -2.6 spinal t-score to a -1.6 spinal t-score; a full standard deviation of change. Woohoo! Although I didn’t quite reach a number greater than -1.5, I certainly made a significant gain. Time to celebrate!
Because load-bearing is now integrated into my lifestyle, I no longer need aggressive focus. Time for a new adventure…
What are you doing to ensure your long-term health?