Not too long ago, I read an interview with Betty White. She was telling a story about a recent lunch with her Hot in Cleveland costars. Miss White had ordered her favorite, a bacon cheeseburger, fries with gravy and a vodka martini. Her much younger friends had ordered things like salads and fruit plates. Staging what was an intervention of sorts, they told her they were concerned for her health, and that perhaps she should consider healthier options. Her response? “Who at this table is 90?”
Just this past week, my 80-year-old father had one of his regular medical checkups. Mom told me that he has gained 25 pounds since his last surgery. That’s quite a bit of weight on his rather small frame. “What did the doctor say?” was my first question. The answer? “Nothing.” About three years ago, Dad was in a coma for a month, resulting in his inability to swallow for months after. He had a nasal feeding tube, followed by a PEG, and was finally able to eat normally after many sessions with a speech therapist. A few more years of digestive issues and surgeries had left him looking rather thin and worn. Now, his appetite is not only back, it’s back with a vengeance. He loves fast food, he loves chocolate and he loves potato chips. My advice? Buy him some bigger pants and let him eat what he wants.
At what point in life are we finally allowed a free pass? If we take pains to preserve our health so that we can live into old age, and our efforts actually pay off, THEN may we have seconds on dessert? THEN may we have that vodka martini with lunch and/or that after dinner smoke? Then is it OK to ask, “Who at this table is 90?”