Story by John Wayne Schlatter
Having a goal based on love is the greatest life insurance in the world.
If you had asked my dad why he got up in the morning, you would have found his answer disarmingly simple: “To make my wife happy.”
Mom and Dad met when they were nine. Every day before school, they met on a park bench with the homework. Mom corrected Dad’s English and he did the same with her math. Upon graduation, their teachers said that the two of them were the best “student” in the school. Note the singular!
They took their time building their relationship, even though Dad always knew she was the girl for him. Their first kiss occurred when they were 17, and their romance continued to grow into their 80s.
Just how much power their relationship created was brought to light in 1964. The doctor told Dad he had cancer and estimated that he had six months to one year left at the most.
“Sorry to disagree with you, Doc,” my father said. “But I’ll tell you how long I have. One day longer than my wife. I love her too much to leave the planet without her.”
And so it was, to the amazement of everyone who didn’t really know this love-matched pair, that Mom passed away at the age of 85 and Dad followed one year later when he was 86. Near the end, he told my brothers and me that those 17 years were the best six months he ever spent.
To the wonderful doctors and nurses at the Department of Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center at Long Beach, he was a walking miracle. They kept a loving watch on him and just couldn’t understand how a body so riddled with cancer could continue to function so well.
My dad’s explanation was simple. He informed them that he had been a medic in World War I and saw amputated arms and legs, and he had noticed that none of them could think. So he decided he would tell his body how to behave. Once, as he stood up and it was evident he felt a stabbing pain, he looked down at his chest and shouted, “Shut up! We’re having a party here.”
Two days before he left us he said, “Boys, I’ll be with your mother very soon and someday, some place we’ll all be together again. But take your time about joining us; your mother and I have a lot of catching up to do.”
It is said that love is stronger than prison walls. Dad proved it was a heck of a lot stronger than tiny cancer cells.
Bob, George and I are still here, armed with Dad’s final gift.
A goal, a love and a dream give you total control over your body and your life.