CREDOS:Both sides-I

After my mother passed away, my dad tried even harder to stay healthy and active. Each morning, until the weather turned too cold, he swam in the turquoise pool in the complex where he lived. Each day—no matter how he felt—he swam one more lap than the previous day, just to prove there was always room for improvement. Every few days he reported the new number of laps to me, pride edging his voice. I would answer truthfully, “Golly, Dad, I don’t know if I could still swim that many!”

By his late seventies, in spite of swimming and working six days a week, my dad had noticeably dwindled in strength and energy. By age eighty-one he was in poor health and had to retire. He pretended he didn’t need to lean heavily on me for support as we walked slowly, and I pretended not to notice. His mind was clear, but congestive heart problems and disabling arthritis had worn him down. One day he said, “In case of an emergency I do not wish to be kept alive by any extraordinary means. I’ve signed an official paper to this effect.”

He smiled his wonderful, broad grin and said, “I’ve been blessed to have had your mother as my wife and you as my only child, and I’m ready to go.”

Less than a month later he had a heart attack. In the emergency room, he again reminded his doctor and me of his wishes, but I couldn’t imagine - in spite of this latest crisis - that he wouldn’t always be saying, “Have I told you yet today that I adore you?” —