Today I celebrated my 51st birthday! This is a bittersweet birthday for me. My dad died in his 51st year of cancer. My mother died when she was 34 of complications from having her appendix removed. So if I make it through this year I will have outlived both my parents. I have thought about this a lot. While I have aspirations to be an old woman, I don’t take it as a given that I will get there. I think it has to do with having parents that died young.
I knew a man once who was dying at the age of 83. He was surprised and angry that he was dying, he had always assumed that he would live to be 96 like his dad. He told me that he felt he was being cheated out of 13 years--that he’d been shortchanged. I could relate to that; I think I would probably feel the same way if both my parents were long-lived.
But seeing my father grappling with the premature ending of his life had a big effect on me. I don’t want to leave things for the end of my life, because you never know when the end of your life might be. Given that life can be short and unpredictable, what do I want my life to be like?