My Dad. Most people used to think that he was a decade younger than his chronological age. Following his retirement, he and my mother bought 15 acres in Grand Junction, Colorado, raised sheep and alfalfa, and enjoyed both cross-country and downhill skiing. They were card-carrying members of the OFOS (Old Farts on Skis) club and enjoyed camping and other outdoor activities. In 2004 they moved back to Texas and settled in Temple, roughly 35 miles south of Waco.
He and my mother loved gardening and tending to their acre-sized lot and the house that they had designed.
However, at 86 he was beginning to feel winded, which interfered with his ability to lead the active life he enjoyed. His cardiologist recommended an aortic valve replacement. At first my father thought that he would have Transcatheter Aortic Valve Replacement (TAVR), which replaces the valve without open-heart surgery. (According to Baylor College of Medicine, “Most people who have this [TAVR] procedure are older, usually in their 70s or 80s, and often have other medical conditions that make them a better candidate for this type of surgery.”) However, after a 15-minute visit with the surgeon, my father was sold on the open-heart route. His surgeon thought that the open-heart route was best, ran a battery of tests, and recommended that my father take the more invasive route. According to their test results, this surgery posed only a 3% chance of mortality for my father.
With odds like that, how could he say “no.” After all, they’re professionals; they know what they’re doing. He’d be fully recovered before he and my mother started harvesting melons and cucumbers from their garden in July.