On October 14th, 1998–13 years ago today–I lost my dad. Because of his high blood pressure (the number one risk factor), he suffered a series of strokes (“TNTC”- too numerous to count, according to his medical records) over a five-year period. In his last two years his mobility and speech were heavily impaired and he needed round-the-clock care. It was heartbreaking to see him lose his independence, but we were given the gift of more time with him. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him, and when I want to feel close to him, I’ll cook. Chopping vegetables, especially onions, always reminds me of him because he taught me how to do it– I still have a clear picture of what his hands looked like as he sliced through the layers, first vertically and then horizontally.
“Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.”
When I came across this quote by Steve Jobs last week, I was reminded of how I felt shortly after my father’s passing. His death made me realize my own mortality and I no longer wanted to take anything for granted. I had been waiting tables for nine years, all the while dreaming of opening a gift shop. On March 20,1999, I followed my heart and funded the opening of Inner Peace with a credit card, thinking the worst that could happen would be regretting not trying. Thankfully, the store was a success, and I am so grateful for this last lesson my dad taught me.
In honor of my father, please take a moment to read about the warning signs of a stroke. There have been advances in medicine since his passing and now you can limit the amount of damage incurred from a stroke if you get to the hospital in time.