My story starts off like any other on an April night in 2004. I was enjoying a quant meal with my parents. As we were all finishing up our meal, my father got this strange look across his face. My mother looked at him and asked if he was alright and he nodded his head. I sat there oblivious to anything going on. I was like any other self-centered teenager. I continued talking about my day while my father pushed his plate aside and sat there quietly. My mother quit eating because she was worried about my father. She asked my dad again if he was alright. This time he responded by telling my mother he just had a little heartburn. She became alarmed because we had just finished eating and my father is not one to get heartburn after such a bland meal. As we sat there for the next few minutes, my father chewed on some antacid tablets and waited to see if the heartburn would go away. My father calmly looked at my mother and said his left elbow was numb. My mother knew right away what was wrong. I however went up to my room as if nothing was wrong. My mother told me her and my father were going to go to the doctor to make sure everything was ok.
The next few hours seem to be a blur. When I woke up the next morning I went to school but I was a nervous wreck all day because I didn’t know how my dad was. When I got home, my grand-mother was waiting at my house. I immediately broke down crying because I just knew she was only there because something bad had happened. It was however just the opposite. My father was in recovery and was going to be fine. When he had arrived at the hospital the night before, they immediately knew he was about to have a heart attack. They ran a few tests and rushed him into surgery. The tests had revealed he had 98 percent blockage in two major arteries in his heart. He had two stints put into those arteries. The doctors told my mom that he was probably half an hour away from having the heart attack the doctors refer to as “the widow maker”. My mother sat for the next few hours praying to God. When I finally got to the hospital I was scared to see my father. I was afraid he would be all sickly looking and be hooked up to a lot of machines and I was afraid to see my dad as anything but strong healthy. As I walked in the hospital room, my father shot me a huge smile and immediately began joking. He was the same person that he always was, no weaker, no different.
During the time my father was in the hospital it made me think of how much I needed him in my life and how I would be lost without him. I couldn’t imagine my life without him. All the advice he has given me over the years kept running through my head. I could hear him repeating bible versus or telling me to buckle up as I left the house with a friend or to enjoy the sunset because it might be your last. As I sat on the edge of the hospital bed he began telling me stories from his lifetime that had put him in this bed. He said he had probably eaten too much fast food on road trips, drank too many beers during football games, and smoked too many cigarettes in his younger years. He said he hated the outcome but that he wouldn’t be who he is today if he hadn’t lived the life he had. He told me to live each day as if it were my last and have no regrets; this I believe, has developed into my life’s philosophy.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.