The Stories I’m Told

I met a gentleman today. Like many elderly before him, he saw me walking around in hyvee with Felix in his carrier, and said that it would’ve been nice to have when he had been raising kids. He then went on to tell me his life story.

His wife passed away when they were both 35 years old. They had a son and a daughter, and the daughter was still a baby at that time. So he raised his kids alone. He never remarried.

He had polio as a teenager and beat it. He joined the Army when he was young and was in the Korean War. He enjoyed the Army, and worked with explosives. Not explosives like we have nowadays he said, but the ones with glycerin, that can go off for any little reason. He enjoyed traveling and all that he was able to learn and do.

Then he jumped ahead to talking about his wife passing away, and raising and taking care of his son and daughter. He said his son passed away at age 51 to MS, and his daughter passed away at age 46 (I don’t remember why). He said he took care of them as long as he could, until he could no longer. He then helped raise his grandchildren, and they all look out for him when he has medical procedures. He also helps with his great grandchildren now.

This gentleman was proud to tell me he is a born again Christian, and when he was diagnosed with cancer he certainly was not afraid. They told him he had it everywhere, including his lymph nodes and many organs in his body. He had 10 surgeries and watched every one of them he was awake for. He said the nurses and doctors got a kick out of it, but he said it’s his body and he wants to make sure they’re doing it right. Plus he was fascinated to watch them work. He listed off all the organs affected, which included his pancreas, liver, and intestines (plus several others). Many surgeries, many ICU stays, and even life support. Doctors told him he would never survive it all, but years later he stands there in hyvee telling me about it, cancer-free. He told me about the surgery sites not healing properly and needing to care for it at home. And then he told me about being diabetic and needing to change his diet in order to have a final surgery to repair the open wounds. He changed his diet so much that he no longer needed insulin.

He claimed to never have drank soda, coffee or alcohol other than tastes earlier in life. He said that’s why he believes he does not have dementia. He currently visits folks at 3 different nursing homes here in town.

He said he drives a pickup truck now because it’s easier to get into. But until recently he had a Mustang. He said just once he got it up to 140 mph. He said he’s heard you’re supposed to die with grace, but he wants to go out with a bang. He wants to enjoy life, every moment of it, and live to be 120! He said the hardest part about being as old as he is, is watching all of his loved ones pass away or lose their memories. But he’s happy to still be alive at AGE 91!!!, against all odds.

I could’ve listened to him talk all day long. I’m absolutely fascinated with his stories. And I didn’t even catch his name. Just a photo of him as he left.