Over the last several years I've seen what can only be called 'rapid aging' by my father-in-law. Sadly, like this writer, he was a man that never seemed to make or find the time to go see a medical doctor to get himself checked up or have any outstanding issues looked at. I don't know if he just had a fear of Doctors, or of hospitals and surgery and such, or just never really felt that bad, but he clearly had some medical issues that needed to be dealt with but weren't.
Now, I don't want to be giving away too much personal information here, either for myself or my father-in-law, so I'm gonna skimp on details, but provide just a little basic information to fill in some blanks.
My wife and I have been married for many years now. Enough to be celebrating one of the big anniversaries if it didn't already pass without us remembering it. No, I'm not that old, nor is she, but we've been together a good while now, and we'll leave it at that.
When we first got together, I was younger, more naive and more shy, and was concerned that her parents wouldn't like me, and that I'd irritate her father in some way and then incur the wrath that she used to tell me about. No, nothing abusive, at least not physically. Just displeasure and irritation that would make it clear that something either myself or my wife had done dishonored and displeased my elders and they deserved better treatment, or at least clearly expected better treatment.
At the time my father-in-law was working hard and was an early-to-bed/early-to-rise employee who was actually higher up in the chain, in the upper middle manager level of things. He was used to having his way and had earned it with many years of service in his career. He was vibrant, quick witted, intelligent, and seemed to love to discuss things and keep up with current events, news in the business and political world and more. Even though we were at somewhat opposite ends of the political spectrum, he was still courteous and cordial in discussing things and would offer perspective of someone from the era of our greatest generation. Someone that had grown up during tougher times and always seemed concern that we could wind up back in similarly tough times. Socially liberal, but fiscally fairly conservative (in how he handled his own finances, not in how he wished to see the government spent money).
Anyway, I mention above that he was vibrant and quick witted at the time. And he was, then and for a lot of the time that I've known him. At least until the last few years.
Over the last few years he has sadly fallen victim to some personal health issues that have weakened him severely. He put off some medical issues far too long and then when basically forced to get those issues addressed, he suffered after-effects and side-effects and consequences of being older and weaker and not being able to recover as easily as he would have in his younger days. Sadly some of those consequences included suffering some bleeding on the brain because of a fall, and then suffering some small strokes that also weakened him.
He recovered somewhat from those events, but you could see at the time that he had suffered a serious toll. Since that time, he's been on a roller coaster of small peaks and valleys with most of the time being spent in the valleys and with the few peaks (good times) being few and far between.
He is clearly becoming a victim of age and his previous lack of medical care and attention left him unable to really deal with medical issues that have come up over time. He has a hard time walking without assistance, or did have a hard time doing so up until the last few weeks when he has been confined to a wheel chair. He's also had a hard time using the, uh, facilities (rest room and such) and needs much more care than his similarly aged and unfortunately weakened by age, spouse is able to provide.
Even with other family members checking in as regularly as possible, things have gotten to a point that it's fairly clear that the end is most likely coming sooner, rather than later, and that makes me sad.
My father-in-law isn't old. He has aged a lot over the last few years, but in terms of years on this planet, he's not that old. Elderly yes, old, not so much. He's been able to enjoy some life as a retiree, but he's still not that old. And yet... sadly, he's probably not much longer for this world.
He's in the hospital tonite and will be getting surgery to relieve some bleeding on the brain type issues again. He seems resigned to the idea that he may not live much longer. He does have other medical issues that are compounding things again, but sadly they are issues that really won't go away and can't be fixed. Treated somewhat yes, fixed no. Perhaps those other issues are what are really taking him down now, but then again he's been a victim of falling in his home a few times, including breaking his wrist, pulling his arm out of the socket, and other issues that befall older individuals.
It's a sad way to see a life end, especially knowing the man that used to be. I hope not to be back soon writing a final goodbye to him, but I know it could be in the future. We all age, and eventually we will all pass on. It is inevitable.