Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Daddy's Example

Today is the 12-year anniversary of the death of my dad.  When I think back, there is so much emotion tied to my childhood and young adult years where he is concerned, but I will not delve into that here.  Suffice it to say that I am so very thankful that my dad chose to receive Christ into his life a few months before he died, and the knowledge that I’ll spend eternity with him in heaven brings peace and joy to my heart, and I’m thankful for the handful of beautiful memories our family has from the last few months he was alive.

What is pertinent to my weight loss journey and this blog, however, is the terrible relationship my dad had with food, and the example it set for me while I was growing up.  As a young man, my dad was very trim, and so handsome!  Looking at my mom and dad’s wedding photos, he very much resembled Clark Gable when he played the role of Rhett Butler in “Gone With the Wind”.  As the years went by though, my dad became less and less active, all the while eating more and more, and it took a toll on his body.

Never one to eat breakfast, my mom would pack lunches for my dad to carry to work with him, and typically, he wanted nothing more than a sandwich or two and a bag of chips.  When he got home from work is when the real eating would begin.  My mom always prepared large dinner meals, usually consisting of a meat, two or three side dishes (most of which were processed foods), and a salad, and there was always ice cream, donuts, and other sweets around for dessert.  After eating large portions of everything she prepared, along with a 32oz. glass of sweet tea, Daddy would go to their bedroom to watch television before going to sleep.  Within an hour, he would begin snacking, which might consist of an entire package of cookies, or a whole box of cereal.  Another of his regular snacks was a jar of peanut butter mixed with a jar of jelly, eaten with either a half loaf of bread or a half box of crackers, and another 32oz. glass of milk.  Sometimes he would have more than one of these enormous snacks in the same evening.

Every so often, my dad would bounce to the other extreme with his eating patterns.  He would decide that he had put on too much weight, and he would get angry about it.  He would blame my mother, saying that she wasn’t cooking healthy meals for our family, and demand that she only fix him salads with cottage cheese for lunch and for dinner.  Mama would comply, but within a day or two, Daddy was eating his salads during the day, and would revert back to his snacks at night, and before you knew it, he’d want to return to the regular meals Mama had always made and the cycle would begin all over again.

I can honestly say that I loved my dad dearly, but I don’t ever want to be like him where food is concerned.  I don’t know what he weighed when he died, but if I had to guess, I would say he had to have been in the 400-500 pound range.  He was 54 years old and died from a massive heart attack that just very well may have been prevented if he had lived a healthier lifestyle.  I hate to think of all the things he missed out on…he never got to meet my wonderful husband or walk me down the aisle at our wedding…he never got to be Papaw to my children…he never got to enjoy his retirement years off of work…he never got to know two of my sister’s beautiful children…he never got to fulfill his dream of visiting Ireland…the list goes on and on…

So…one of the reasons why I’ve committed to my own weight loss journey is that I don’t want my life to be characterized by the “I never’s…”  I want to be able to be a great example of a healthy lifestyle for my own children, and to live my life fully, every single day.

I love you Daddy, and I miss you terribly…but I refuse to be like you…

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