My father, Jack, passed away suddenly and quite unexpectedly a few days ago. He was 82, and rarely ill, but an issue the doctors found in his heart, one that they tried to fix 4 weeks ago, was his downfall. There are several factors that make no sense to me from all of the sadness and soul-searching that has followed his demise and so I thought I would write one small chapter in my blog dedicated to his life in the hope that anyone reading who has or has had a parent, child, friend in a similar position, will take not and then take action on the off-chance they might be more successful than I was in saving a loved one from a premature death.
Jack was born in 1934, prematurely I might add, in Edinburgh Scotland. Legend has it that his 3lb frame as placed in the local Jewish bakers oven for days on end to try to save him, incubators not having been invented at that time. That worked and so Jack made it to the ripe, though not terribly old by today’s standards, age of 82. His mother Alice though was less fortunate, dying 3 years later after giving birth to Jack’s sister Sylvia, dying of acute heart failure. She was 29. The warning signs were there, though unfortunately in 1938, no one had the foresight to place two and two together and tell both kids that they should keep an eye out for heart issues in their early lives.
Jack was the first person in the UK to bring plastic shopping bags from Hong Kong introducing them to the grocery stores and restaurant trade . He was a pioneer of sorts, although all you ‘greenies’ out there might disagree at this point. He also became the first person in Scotland to import 8 track in-car entertainment units from Japan. If you’re under 40 you won’t even know what they are, so Google it. Jack had very few health problems in his early life and although extremely fond of his whisky, and a regular smoker until he was well into his 40’s, recurring kidney stones were his biggest problem. Several times he was admitted to hospitals to have them removed, one occasion being in London when I attended visiting time accompanied by my usual sense of humor and after ten minutes of gut wrenching laughter and a few split stitches on his now scarred belly, the nursing team had to physically eject me to save him from certain death. There was blood everywhere and Jack, who was laughing so hard, was only saved from the after world by a quick thinking doctor who proceeded to sew him up again and the sedate him!
Over ten years ago, when I was in my later 30’s, I began to see my doctor annually for a physical. This included full blood work, heart and body check and a finger up my bum, where every time I could I continued to spout that wonderful line, “Hey Doctor, I just lost my virginity!” So I knew each year I was good to go and fit as a fiddle. Education had encouraged me to do this, and I rarely, if ever miss a year, so have been able to stay on top of any ailments that had any chance of making my future life on earth miserable. Jacks father dies of, guess what, heart failure, and his great Grandfather Morris, the same ailment, so you’d have thought that when Jack found out 4 weeks ago that his main artery was 100% blocked, rather than feigning surprise and lack of concern, typical for someone brought up in Scotland in the 1930’s where a certain toughness is instilled at birth and doctors are always seen as the enemy because anyone wanting to see one was classed as a total wimp, he would have sat himself down and regretted the fact that he’d ignored his pending problem for so many years prior.
A stent, inserted into his heart just 1 week later, and designed to solve his blocked artery problem, seemed to have assisted in sorting this issue out, that was until last Monday, March 13, when his pool man Charlie and his best mate Moshe, found him dead on the floor inside his house in Israel, not wearing the wrist band we purchased that allowed him to call for emergency help when he needed it and stone cold, having been dead for some 12 hours at least. The rest in now history, but sure the lessons are there to be learned.
If you have a family history of any diseases whatsoever, take heed, look into them and educate yourselves on their possible cures, or calamities, and sort them out while you can. Don’t wait, don’t be afraid of seeing a doctor. Spend the money, if you have it and figure out how a remedy is better than the alternative, straight death, or a life of miserable suffering. We have the cures, we have the technologies and we live in a society that allows us access to incredible convenience and rapid results. Please don’t let what happened to my dad happen to your dad or your mum. Look out for your own health too. there’s nothing more precious than time, so give yourself a chance to get as much as is humanly possible. Today I remember my dad, but tomorrow I will be very angry that I never saw him again after booking a trip to visit him next week. I should have had the chance to spend more time with him, but alas, that will never happen.
Shalom and le’hitra’ot Dad.