I had this phone convo with my dad yesterday:
Me: Dad, remember how you sprayed pesticides in your grampa’s cherry orchard when you worked for him, and a few times you got sprayed right in the face with no mask?
Dad: Sweetheart, I got sprayed many, many times in the face, not a few. Occasionally I’d tie a bandana around my face, but then I’d get hot and take it off and end up with chemicals in my face AGAIN.
[He tells a long story about how his uncle was once adjusting a nozzle and turned, as the pesticide was in a solid, high-pressure stream, and hit my dad in the face when Dad’s mouth was open. He swallowed lots of it.]
Me: Wow. Okay, I was thinking the pesticide was Malathion. No?
Dad: Well, we did use Malathion. But no, the main ones we used were DDT and Parathion. Both of them have been banned for many years.
[Side note: The muckraking book Silent Spring linked DDT to massive human endocrine damage as well as wildlife devastation. The resurgence of the near-extinct bald eagle is linked to DDT being pulled from the market in approximately 1970, and the uproar over the chemical gave rise to today’s environmentalist movement.]
Dad: All that pesticide I breathed and swallowed and soaked through my skin, for years, is the reason your mom thinks I’m gonna die before I turn 70.
Me: No you’re not! I need you around until you’re at least 90.
Dad: Well, the life my dad is living isn’t a life I really want. And my mother’s side….nobody lived to 60!
[He goes sideways with a long story about my grampa, 91 and senile, a recovered alcoholic/chain smoker who lives in a rest home. My brother Glen, named after my grampa, called him on his 90th birthday and said, “Hi Grampa, I’m Glen Openshaw, your grandson.” And my grampa said, “Glen Openshaw?! That’s MY name!”]
Me: You should read the China Study, about how cancer can be turned on or off depending on the fuel you choose to eat. Your heredity doesn’t doom you. Neither does toxicity exposure. Eat lots of plant food, okay Dad? Especially greens.
Dad: I have taken a lot of supplements and done a lot of detox to eliminate heavy metals. And yes, I eat a LOT of greens. Your mom makes green smoothies that you could cut with a knife. But yesterday the one she made was so good, I had seconds. Today I ate a huge salad at Texas Roadhouse Grill.
Me: Go you! Better than a steak! And, just add water to that smoothie.
Dad: The two guys I was with had a steak.
Me: Just one of the reasons you’re my hero, Dad. You go out to eat with GUYS, to a STEAKHOUSE of all places, and you order a salad! You’re the bomb.
[My dad then tells me about how he has questioned God for a long time about why He allows someone like my Grampa to far outlive his ability to progress. Dad believes it’s so that all the people who interact with Grampa get an opportunity to prove who they are, with the way they treat him. For instance, the night employee at the rest home, who can choose to sit and watch TV, or provide love and care when no one is watching, to a lonely old man who doesn’t appear to know the difference.]
I thought about that all day. My dad is so dang cool.