Pam Gruen - Daddy
Pam Gruen created Educated Uncouth to explore health and other topics and to play! It’s going better than she ever she expected and she is very grateful!
My dad had his first heart attack when I was 15. They said he was going to die. When my brother and I went in to see him, it was to say goodbye.
Miraculously, after he saw us, he started to fight to come back. And he did. Mostly.
His heart attack had been preceded by several mini-strokes and a major stroke. He had to learn to write again. But it broke my heart when he tried to play his banjo.
Before the stroke, he was a master of banjo, guitar, and mandolin. His fingers would fly and when he played “Johnson’s Old Grey Mule”, he’d make the strings sound like a braying donkey.
Now, his fingers wouldn’t listen to him. Not content to play easier music than he did before, he just wouldn’t play. Occasionally, he’d get out his banjo and try but would curse in frustration when he couldn’t do what he wanted and slam his old friend back into its case.
My dad was a short man and a smoker. When he was in the hospital, he had dreams that he was under a cigarette tree, packs hanging there, waiting to be picked and smoked. He jumped as high as he could, but he couldn’t reach the lowest branches.
As soon as he got out, he smoked. He never quit. He didn’t change his diet. He took short walks, but nothing else. I was a teenager, so I never got to speak to him as an adult, so I don’t know why he did or didn’t do things he should or shouldn’t have. I think maybe changing a lifetime of habits in such a short time was just something he thought he couldn’t do.
I quit smoking in my late twenties. I am overweight. I exercise a lot, but I also eat like a Hobbit. I don’t give up. I keep trying to lose weight; to be healthier. I meditate. I’m trying mindful eating as an extension of meditation. I need more practice.
I had to watch him die. I don’t want to go out like that.