The Sam Snyders, 2004

Today is my Dad’s birthday. He would have been 80 years old. He died 14 years ago when he was only 66. He has pancreatic cancer in that photo above. He was about 6 months into his ordeal at that point. You can see the ordeal in his thinning frame. I was 42 and alive as all hell in that photo. I’m coming up on 56 now. That’s only 10 years away from my father’s age at death. As my face ages, I see his face in the mirror more frequently. I look for hints of year 66 and the ordeal. I try to see through that to what I might be at 80. I want to make it that far. At least that far.

My youngest child is almost 2. I want to be in a photo with him when he is 42. That would make me 96. I want to be there for that photo and countless photos with all my children between now and then.

I haven’t fully thought this out, but I think my Dad’s passing at a relatively young age is part of what motivates me to run long distances. I want to be alive. I want to run through the woods and conquer all the mountains. I want to do it so I can keep on living. I want to be healthy, strong, and unstoppable.

Do I actually live this way every day? No. More often than not, I’m a lazy gluttonous slob. I’m my own worst enemy. My spirit is willing to live to 96, but my flesh is weak. It’s weak for cakes and pies and candy and potato chips. It’s so weak it can barely carry its own 223 pounds.

I need to snap out of it and lose 30 pounds. There are miles to be run and years to be lived. I need to get with the program. 66 is only 10 years away. It might sound morbid: my father’s death drives me. I am ever trying to outrun my own death. If I keep moving fast enough, maybe the cancer won’t be able to catch up to my pancreas.

Yet, even as I write this, all I can think about is a cake that’s sitting in our kitchen. I won’t lie. I’m going to eat some as soon as I publish this. Then I’m going to bed. “Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I die before I wake, blame it all on that cake.”

Other posts about my Dad:


  • Shirley

    January 18, 2019

    Wow. Your writing left me in tears. I kinda know how you feel. My mom died of cancer when she was 68. I’m a bit younger than you, not by much. Just had a routine blood test. Cholesterol through the roof, because I eat cake, chocolate and sweets of all kinds – EVERY DAY, at all times of the day. I am stopping, I have stopped – the sweets intake. I feel cranky, but lighter. My daughter, husband and family will thank me. I can live with the cravings, because I want to live. You’re stronger than your cravings. I’m sorry about your dad. Stay strong Sam.

  • Sam

    January 18, 2019

    I’m sorry to hear that about your mom, Shirley. I hope you do get that cholesterol down. Running has helped me maintain good cholesterol and good blood pressure. I used to have high blood pressure before I lost some weight. But I need to be more consistent. I’ve gained weight again over the past several years. Sooner or later that might have a negative impact if I don’t get with it.

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