If he were still alive, today would be my father’s 116th birthday. He reached only 81 of those 116 years before he died. “Only” 81 is an odd way of putting it. That’s more than a respectable age, though he should have achieved at least 90. His two-pack-a-day-habit of inhaling the smoke of unfiltered Pall Mall cigarettes snatched at least nine years from him, I figure. In the same way my similar volume of inhaling fumes from burning Merit cigarettes required the removal of a piece of my right lung. Dad wasn’t so lucky. His lung cancer was too advanced and too deadly when they diagnosed it. He lived with the knowledge that he had lung cancer for a rather short amount of time, as I recall. I don’t recall the actual length of his illness, but I recall its end. It was an awful, painful experience for him. And it was awful for those of us who watched him live through it in those final days.
I am sixteen years shy of his age when he died. Sixteen years is not a long time. Though, when my father died, sixteen years was half my life. Half a lifetime is a long time. But not so long, really.
I wonder what my father would think of today’s world if he were alive to see it. He would not be impressed, I suspect.