11 Healthy Tips Learned From My 80 Year Old Papa

Two days ago I sat on my late mother’s bed while my pops sat in his wheelchair. As usual, he was humming some tune from the hymnal.  I joined him, and we harmonized like old times.  A gentle fan blew in the widow on my back while one vacillated in front of us.   It was a stiff-hot day.  We’d just finished a good supper (dinner) consisting each of a wheat johnny-bread, small avocado, half apple, and a tall glass of rain water from the tank.IMG_6307

My father is 80 and will be 81 years old this coming May.  Since I was a child, I tended to him ills after his work and on Sabbaths.  By tending, I mean plucking grey hairs out of his head, nose; trim the hair in his ears; pull black-heads from his back; squeeze “worm (oil)” off the creases of his nose; rub his back, leg, feet; cut his finger nail and toenails; perform surgery on the ingrowing toenails (without any license), etc.  I basically slave over this man like he had no other children.  Free!

He always said I was his nurse/doctor, albeit he’d say,  “A rough one.”  I remember being rough with him on many occasions when I wanted him to fire me and hire one of the other “dry-head” bums he helped conceive.  I had no such luck.  He filled my head up with a bundle of “sweet yaan (yarn),” and that was that.  Daddy had massage therapy and healthcare.

After our Sabbath meals, just when the “–itis” of sleep kicked in full drive, I would hear this man call, “RUTH!” and I knew there was no rest for the weary child.

How do you muster up the courage to tell your dear pops, “Get lost,” or “Call on some other” free-loading child of his?  I was the youngest of his girls, and my voice was never heard.  So, I would pull up the one dragging bottom lip off the floor while my siblings laughed at me, and put on my best smile to do my no-wage nursing duties.

But It wasn’t too long before my papi would have me laughing and giggling.  He told stories, and he had a good sense of humour.  Humour for health.  Not a bad deal.  At times we would sing and harmonize together.  I guess these interactions helped guide me to love caring for the sick and for singing.  They were and still are two of my greatest passions.

My father is not perfect.  He’s the roughest man I ever knew, but he is the best father to me.  I love this old man, and I learned many great lessons from him.  We tend to buck head quite a bit since the time I knew myself, but life goes on.  Even though I didn’t appreciate my brother’s comment once when he was mad at me, “You’re just like your daddy,” I recognize my beautiful old man and I do have much in common.

This trip he was ridding my nerves quite a bit like the devil, but in another moment of glancing at him, all I wanted was to hug, kiss him up, and rub his grey head.  And that’s exactly what I did, for the most part.  Of course, this after we had two “blow-ups,” and I had to check both of ours “presha,” with the blood pressure cuff.  Yes, I bit my tongue, smiled, used silence as a tool, and I was able to practice some compassion towards that tough soldier.

Of this trip to Honduras I have much to say, one being, “I love my old man.”  I hate leaving him here.  He refuses to go back to the US with me, and I cannot stay here.  I recognize his strength is failing quite a bit, and despite the threats I made to him, he keeps looking to the east towards the graveyard where he seems focused on going.

My heart is heavy today, but I am grateful for all the love, support, and lessons learned from my man.  Papi was healthy and never had a problem until at age 62 when he fell off a ladder and went into spinal cord shock.  His doctor told him he’d never walk again, but like the rebel that he is, my father proved his doctor wrong.

I wonder what would have been his outcome had he followed my advice and refuse to sit in that wheelchair after he walked without those crutches.  He is stubborn.  And I recon so am I.  We were meant to dance together in this life.

Since my old man has been in this wheel chair he later became diabetic and with high blood pressure.  These things he has kept under control with diet and his own regular off/on dosing of prescribed pills.  For years I’ve fussed at him about this, but the rascal does what he wants.

Two days ago when I questioned my old man to speak to me on health, these are the things he shared:

1.  “Get 8 hours sleep at night by 8 or 9 pm.  It renews and refreshes your body and blood.  The saying goes, early to bed, early to rise.  Makes you healthy, wealthy, and wise.”  Like I, my father also has a record player playing music continuously on his mind.  His night-time lullaby is the hymn Under His Wings. He also dreams vivid dreams.

2.  “Eat 3 meals/day (at certain times and on time) 0700, 1200, 4pm and shut the kitchen down. As a child, we didn’t eat again until the next morning.  No snacking!  Jawbone got to rest and with that your stomach.  You hungry at night?  Hydrate yourself with water,” my pops said.

3.  “Hit the hot sun once a day at least 30 minutes.  You don’t find Elene (men from Santa Elena or Helene) man sick.  He gets a lot of sun.”

4.  “Eight (8) glasses of water a day, or you’ll dry up.”he said, “Always drink a tall glass of water before you eat.”

5.  “EAT NO ANIMAL MEAT!  No chicken, no beef, no hog, no processed meats like ground beef, mortadela, hot dogs (hog, dogs, monkey ground up together).  Eat certain fish, those only with fins and scale, in moderation.”  ‘Ole boy drew up his thick grey/black eyebrows and said, ” Look!  You wanna live long and healthy?  Eat right.  You wanna live brief and sickly?  Eat wrong.”

6.  “Eat foods from the ground, not from the food lab or food processing labs. Fruits like hog plums, almonds, grapes, coca plums (these are all local island fruits).  Eat what’s in season. Keep spices simple, and leave condiments alone.”

7.  “Observe the Sabbath rest from Friday at sunset to Saturday at sunset.  This is the only day you don’t have to work.  It’s a liberating day,” he said, which reminded me of a passage I just read in my mom’s Kevin Trudeau’s book.  He wrote, “Each week a lunar cycle occurs starting at sundown every Friday ending at sundown every Saturday.  This time period is absolutely the most ideal time for the body to recharge and rejuvenate.”  I’m not sure why he said this, but I will definitely investigate this at some other time.

8.  “Leave sugar alone.  Sugar is for monkeys (ice cream, yogurt, etc).  You can eat a cane patch and you wont get sick, but you make sugar out of that cane and man gets sick.”  I know sugar is one of our greatest poisons, but will have to look up the “monkey” part too.   :)

9.  “If you don’t work, your pores close up and you get sick. God said to Adam, by ‘the sweat of your brow you will eat bread’.”  According to my Papi, this “work” also includes daily exercise.

10.  “Have daily worship and devotion with your family.  A family that prays together sticks together,” he said.

11.  “Be subjected to your husband.  When Adam left Eve, and she disobeyed, the snake gave her the fruit.” 

OYE!  At his mention of No. 11, my brows twisted and rolled up and down as if I was having a seizure.  This is where I drew my line.  He saw my dismantlement.  I made silence my refuge.  To smooth out this process, we ended our session with a few hymns.  Music seems to always connect two high-strung soul as ours.  What good lessons on health  has your father taught you?