So, everyone is on a diet for the wedding. Actually, months ago Nick's doctor - at the same time as she upped his dose of Lipitor - gave him a target weight, and the wedding has been the impetus. Well, the wedding and my
Because does he know how furious I'll be with him if he has a heart attack and kicks it? He's much better off going down in a weird blimp accident. At least, as far as I'm concerned.
So the weight. They are all tall, big-boned people. They can carry a lot of weight. But there's a limit to everything.
Nick's father needs to lose at least 50 pounds in order to have a heart operation. They won't operate unless he loses it. Which, until lately, hadn't been happening. He doesn't exercise; he doesn't even walk around a whole lot. He's 75, has arthritis and other health problems, and has mobility issues, which don't help.
And he is a man who likes food. Especially if it's fried. With cheese. And hollandaise. And eggs. And butter. And not-fruit. And not-vegetables. With ice cream on top.
I see how hard things are for him. And I know it would all be easier if he'd just eat better. That would make a tremendous difference.
I genuinely like him. But I want to shake him. I want to say, "Stop it! Yes, your family has this terrible history of heart disease and yes, you will always struggle with weight - but you are in control of your health. And your weight is really working against you."
But I am in no position to do so. Nick's mom does, sort of. She doesn't say that, but she has him on a diet with her at the moment. She's in charge of everything they eat at home, and so all goes pretty well except when they're out and he can order whatever he wants.
In the last couple months, Nick has been losing weight and getting fitter - and feeling better. He has all the same food inclinations as his father. But he exercises, and he's been practicing self-restraint. And he's discovered that he actually likes a couple vegetables. It's all paying off.
And so over the weekend his family remarked on how good he's looking. I'm really proud of him, and I said so. Because not only losing weight, but changing lifelong food habits, is really really hard.
At some point his father and I were alone, and I remarked on how seriously Nick has been working.
Now, I enjoy his father, but sometimes, when we talk about Nick, it feels very much like I'm buying a horse. It's like he feels compelled to tell me pros and cons.
"I believe you'll find that Nick is very kind and generous."
"That's true. He's really great."
"He's a nice, good person."
"The thing you need to know about him, though, is this. The men in our family are fine until age 45. And then they really start putting on weight."
He gestures toward his stomach.
"And they go bald."
I just sit there, really not knowing how to respond. As he's pointing to his thinning but nonbald head. "Oh?"
"But the big thing is that he's most likely going to need a triple or quadruple bypass down the road. That's something you should know."
"I hope not. You know, he's been exercising, and eating more fruit and vegetables. He's really trying to eat well."
What else to say beyond that?
"I'm glad to hear that. You keep up with that. But if you haven't seen it yet, you should be aware that he can be extremely stubborn."
"Well, he's met his match in that regard."
This clearly surprised his father. You could see it on his face.
I don't know if you have seen North Dakota Norwegian Viking Ancestry Stubborn in action? If not, you have no idea. It's like there wasn't much else for my forebears to do out there on the prairie but bale hay and practice stubborn.
Bald, you obviously can't help. But blaming your weight and health entirely on your genes? Resigning yourself to it? While helping yourself to corned beef hash and sausage?
Not with me, you don't.