Surprised By 80

My Dad will be 80 tomorrow. In the morning we’ll all load up and make the three-and-a-half hour drive into the hills of southeastern Oklahoma to the ancestral home to join the celebration. Dad and Mom will have every one one of their 10 grandchildren with them at church Sunday morning–an increasingly difficult feat to pull off these days.

Eighty years is a milestone my father is clearly astonished to see. His own father diedĀ  of prostate cancer in his early fifties almost 50 years ago. When dad reached his fifties, heĀ  had some health problems of his own and had to wonder if perhaps he might be making an early exit, too. But he rallied.

Twelve years ago, my folks allowed their friends and family to throw a big 40th wedding anniversay bash for them. Why? Because they were confident neither of them would make it to their 50th. But they did. So we had an ever bigger event two years ago.

Two years ago . . . that’s when it became clear something was not right with Dad’s memory. I wrote about his diagnosis of Alzheimers in this space two years ago this week.

In the intervening months, he’s fought hard and fought well. And, true to form, knowing the path the disease was leading him down, he’s been diligent to make sure everyone was taken care of and all loose ends were tied up. That’s what good men do.

But tomrorrow . . . we’ll just celebrate. I guess you could say Dad’s having a surprise birthday party. It’s a party for a birthday he’s pleasantly surprised to be having.