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Fit for Life: Til Death do us Part

Sunday, February 17, 2019
Matt Espeut, GoLocalPDX Health +Lifestyle Contributor

I am writing this article based on emotions.

Mixed emotions.

Not knowing exactly how to feel, emotions.

Last Friday my uncle suddenly died at home. Not surprising, but suddenly.

I say not surprising because he was what I call a “ticking time bomb”.

He weighed well over 400lbs., had diabetes and a shoebox full of of medication, yet still continued to drink alcohol and eat unfavorably, despite knowing what he was doing to himself.

My aunt married him around 35 years ago and took care of him until his last breath. She was a saint. She ran to get his meds, helped with his leg cuffs and cooked and kept house for him since he went out on disability and couldn’t work anymore.

He let himself get so bad, that his quality of life was nonexistent. He was a grown man that couldn’t take care of himself.

So here is where the mixed emotions come in. Do I feel bad for her, him, or neither? Was this a blessing for both?

She has a son, (my 36-year-old cousin) that I feel bad for because he lost his father at an early age, but when it comes down to them, I have mixed emotions.

Here’s why.

He wasn’t a bad guy, but he knew the difference and chose the life he lived. I had worked with him in the past and helped him lose weight, and he did other programs that he had success with, yet he kept going back to being overweight and unhealthy.

He even told my aunt that his quality of life sucked.

I never wished for anything but the best for him, or wanted to see him go like that, but I ask myself, is he better off?

This is a question we should all ask ourselves.

Is it better to not live, or is it better to suffer while you are alive?

I am a firm believer that it’s not the number of years you live, it’s the quality and the enjoyment that you get out of life that matters. To me, just existing is meaningless without being happy and creating impact on other people’s lives.

In my aunt’s case, I don’t want her to be lonely, however, it hurt to see her being a slaving over someone that not only didn’t help her out but caused her more stress and work than she needed or deserved. She will miss him, but I keep asking myself, what will she be missing? His existence? The extra work? The constant arguments and pleas to take care of himself?

She loved him and undoubtedly will miss him, but is there some degree of comfort knowing that they are both free of a heavy burden?

I know they had some good times together, but that was years ago. He had been sick a long time, and when I saw her, I could read the pain, anguish and disgust on her face. She was more discouraged that she couldn’t convince him to make the changes necessary to be healthy again and wanted him to be better more than he wanted it.

I went to visit her on Sunday after it happened and had an amazing visit with her. She is a very strong woman and didn’t get emotional at all during our time together.

She was second guessing herself as to whether she did enough, was she at fault for enabling him, could she had done anything different etc.

I had to reassure her that she went above and beyond what any good wife could do. She enabled him by buying the things he wanted to avoid arguments and him being in a bad mood, but I told her that you can’t make adults do what they don’t want to do, and that she shouldn’t have ANY regrets. You can’t rationalize with someone that doesn’t want your help, or guidance to recover. They need to want it to achieve it, and that’s the bottom line.

I also have a brother in the same situation, minus the excessive weight. He does the same thing to my mother, and she feels obligated to take care of him, despite the damage he does to himself. She gets disgusted with him, yet she still keeps taking care of him. He ends up in the hospital on a monthly basis, and is another tragedy waiting to happen.

I have offered him help by getting him into a residential rehab, offering him odd jobs for money, yet he still won’t get it together.

Whenever I see him, he feeds me a bunch of bullshit, and I get mad and say things that he finds offensive. We all argue because my mother also makes excuses for him, and I don’t buy in, so I get frustrated and avoid the situation.

I know addiction is a tough battle to conquer, and a war you need to fight forever, however you need to acknowledge your enemy.

The first step in fighting something is to realize you have a problem and seek and accept help.

The frustrating part of people suffering addiction is they keep harming themselves with no regards to what they do to the people around them. The people that care more about them, than they do themselves.

They have all the answers, and make bottomless promises, yet the ones left behind do the suffering.

My aunt was telling me about a conversation they had before he passed.

He told her that if she died before him, he wouldn’t last very long.

Then she looked back at him and said, “If you die before me, I WILL LAST”.

And that she will, because she is a strong, good hearted, selfless woman that gave herself and all her best years to the people she loved and cared for. I love her dearly and will be there for her whenever she needs me.

When she said “Until Death Do Us Part” at that alter 36 years ago, she meant it!!

Committed to a life of fulfillment,

Matt Espeut, GoLocal's Health & Lifestyle Contributor has been a personal trainer and health & fitnesss consultant for over 25 years. He is the owner of Fitness Profiles, a one on one, and small group personal training company, as well as Providence Fit Body Boot Camp, located at 1284 North Main St., on the Providence/Pawtucket line. You can reach Matt at (401) 453-3200; on Facebook at "Matt Espeut", and on Twitter at @MattEspeut. "We’re all in this life together – let’s make it a healthy one.

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