“If I Die Young” is Now More Like “Living on a Prayer”

I accomplished a major milestone in my life Friday that required no effort.  All I had to was wake up Saturday morning.  I guess that’s not really true.  A healthy diet, exercise, drinking alcohol in moderation, never smoking, and never taking drugs probably has a lot to do with it.  One thing that had little to do with it was heredity!

By waking up Saturday morning, I made it to 47 years, 8 months, and 24 days on Earth.  That’s not bad for a premature baby born in October 1964 that dropped to three pounds and wasn’t expected to live.  After six weeks in the hospital, I was allowed to go home in time for my first Christmas.  (Clearly, mortality is on my mind!)

While I’m very happy to be alive, accomplish more in life, and to spend it with my beautiful family, one thing you’ll never hear me say is “If I live past 47, I’ll live to 100”.

My mother, Dessie, said that as a young woman.  She was referring to the fact that her mother, Reba, died in the summer of 1963 at the age of 48.  My mother was just 20 years old and it was almost a year before she married my father.  My mother thought if she made it to 48, she’d live forever.

My mother not only shared a close resemblance to her mother, but both were also overweight and diabetic.  And, when the time came for my mother, November 7, 1990, they both ended up dying of a heart attack.  My mother lived 47 years, 8 months, and 23 days.

Luckily, for me, my last physical showed me in great health.  Actually, I’m healthier than more than 90% of Americans.  Now that I’m approaching 48 years old, I hope my next physical, in October, shows that I still have a long life ahead of me, barring no accidents or being gunned down (since my doctor is in Chicago)!

If you believe that heredity plays a big role in how long we live, I’m more concerned about my sister, Tammy, outliving my mother.  As she approaches 46 this September, she’s overweight, she’s had two heart attacks, and she hasn’t stopped smoking.  That despite the fact that her doctor last December told her that he almost lost her and the next time he might be as lucky if she didn’t give up smoking.

I, on the other hand, am more concerned with the genes that my father and grandfather have given me.  My grandfather, John Peoples, died in 1978, at the age of 72 of colon cancer.  In February 1987, my father, Hollie, died of brain cancer.  He was only 55.

We never know when our time will come or how we’ll meet our maker.  I know that I’ll do my best to live life to the fullest and I’ll try to make a difference in the lives of my husband, my daughter, my sister, “Mom” Betty, my friends, and my community.

If heredity has more to do with it than statistic averages (in America, men live an average of 75.6 years and women 80.8 years), I’d better see Hawaii, Alaska, Switzerland, Scandinavia, New Zealand, and Israel sooner rather than later.

If I live to 75.6, I have almost 30 years and that will give me time to slow down and enjoy life instead of always planning.

As youngsters (Anthony, 5, and Tammy, 3) in this 1969 photograph, my sister and I knew nothing about the hardships that adults faced in life with work, health, and relationships.  Now that we do, I hope that we both outlive our parents.  As for my sister, I hope her kids learn to appreciate her more and they don’t find out what it’s like to lose your mother when she’s in her 40s and you’re only in your 20s, like we did.

When I think of growing old and outliving everyone, I think of Bette Midler’s character, Dixie Leonard, in the 1991 movie, “For The Boys”.  I saw this movie on opening weekend, almost one year after my mother died and one line stuck with me over the past 21 years.

Dixie’s husband died in World War II and her only son, Christopher, died in the Vietnam War.  Near the end of the movie, as a very old woman, Dixie told a young production assistant about her life as he was trying to get her to an awards show.   She said,  “The thing you wanna avoid is outlasting everybody. Can you remember that?”

I survived Friday and Saturday and I’m looking forward to a long, fulfilling life, and I will strive harder to make everyday count.

So, to Miss ABBA, my parents, my grandparents, my aunts and uncles, and Miss Keshia (my chow chow), I dedicate this Bette Midler remake of the Beatles’  “In My Life”.  I’ll see you again one day.  I just hope it isn’t one day too soon!

Love ♥,

Anthony

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10 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Wanda Otts McCraw on July 8, 2012 at 10:00 am

    Awww Anthony I’m Sorry to had to do thru that. Yep sure does make ya wonder bout heredity stuf. I was 18 when I lost my Dad…he was 60 but his so called BF pushed him off of a building…if U can find details it happen in Sept of 1974. Long story short my Dad was gonna testify against him. My dad had a heart attack & emphasema? not sure how long he would have lived but I don’t ever remember my Dad being sick other than heartattack. My mom died in 91 of lung cancer, she was 69. I lost my brother in 91, he was 51 he died of stomache cancer. So far all of us girls (5) have passed the last milestone. My oldest sister will be 70 this yr, she is look’n great just alot of pressure from taking care of husband. like U said live like U were dieing…Enjoy and so glad U are in good health & have such wonderful peeps to give U happiness. I hope your sister quits smoking, but thats one thing they told my Mom to do too. She said if I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die doing something I enjoy.YUCK…. I tried 3 cigs and thought I was dieing…Mercy they are awful!!!! So keep up the good work & live like U were dieing…..A good song by Tim McGraw

    Reply

    • Wanda,

      I’m glad you and your sisters are still doing well. I guess the bottom line is that we really don’t know when our time is going to be up. However, some have cards stacked against them from birth!

      Interesting story about your dad. So, your dad had health issues before he was pushed from a building? Was it ruled a homicide or an accident and was the other person ever charged with anything is relation to his death. Sorry to ask so many questions.

      Take care of yourself, my friend.

      AP

      Reply

  2. Posted by Dixie on July 8, 2012 at 10:19 am

    Anthony you are going to live to be a hundred, maybe longer you have the the determination and the positive thinking..And you are eat good and live a clean life..Stay positive and live long and happy my friend..

    Reply

    • Dixie,

      Thanks for the confidence. I just know I plan on living my life to the fullest, regardless of age. Take care of yourself and thank you for the friendship.

      AP

      Reply

  3. Posted by Jackie on July 8, 2012 at 11:31 am

    I can relate! My parents both lost their parents early, and it seems when I go to the dr and talk “family history”, I get the eyebrow raise, and the head shake. Sorry you had to go thru loosing your mom at a young age, that’s rough! I hope you sister gets lucky with her fight, seems she fighting an uphill battle!

    Reply

    • Jackie,

      My doctor is aware of the family history and I had one more thorough cancer examination that ended up being negative — just calcification. So, all is good.

      I hope you stay healthy and happy.

      AP

      Reply

  4. Anthony, if you are so worried about the chances of being killed on your Dr. visit to Chicago why don’t you simply change Doctors?

    Reply

  5. Hi Lee,

    I’m really not concerned about the doctor and being killed. That was just a morbid attempt at humor since I blogged Friday about the Chicago murder rate.

    AP

    Reply

  6. Posted by Dorothy DeMay on July 8, 2012 at 10:49 pm

    Hi Anthony, My goal was to make it to 54. My father was 50 and my mother was 53. Both had cancer. I was dx with inflammatory breast cancer when I was 48. Next month, I will turn the Dbl Nickel! My motto became, “Cancer lives with me, I don’t live with it. If it wants to hang on, it’s going for one hellava ride!”

    Reply

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