Al Roker is excited to host the 2023 Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade after health issues last year caused him to miss the parade for the first time in 27 years.
The co-hosts of the beloved TODAY Weatherman are also excited about his return. “You know the best part of the parade this year? Guess who’s coming back! Co-host Craig Melvin told TODAY on November 20.
“The parade wasn’t the same last year without Al,” TODAY’s Hoda Kotb recalled, adding that the team was “over the moon” that he was back to host the parade this year.
“I feel pretty good. … I feel like I’m back 100 percent,” Al told TODAY.com in a phone interview.
However, this time last year, things were very different. In November 2022, Al was admitted to hospital due to blood clots in his legs, which spread to his lungs. As a result, it was unable to host the parade for the first time since 1995.
Instead, Al watched the balloons, floats and crowds that morning from a hospital bed — although he was able to leave the hospital just in time for Thanksgiving dinner with his family.
Shortly after returning home, Al was readmitted to the hospital in late November due to internal bleeding, which caused him to miss the annual lighting of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
After the parade, “(I thought), sure, I’ll be ready for the tree lighting…and I watched them both from the hospital,” Al says.
Doctors eventually discovered that Al had two bleeding ulcers and performed a seven-hour surgery to resection his colon, remove his gallbladder and redo his duodenum, part of the small intestine, TODAY.com reported previously.
It was Al’s first time in an intensive care unit, he told his TODAY co-hosts after returning to the show in January. Al was finally released from the hospital on December 8, 2022.
However, Al says he didn’t learn the severity of his health problems until after he left the hospital. His wife, Deborah Roberts, and younger daughter, Leila Roker, initially hid him so they wouldn’t know how ill he really was.
“I was home for maybe two or three weeks, and as we decompressed and debriefed, Deborah and Leila talked about how difficult and serious the situation was. (Then) my brother talked about it,” he said.
Earlier this year, Roberts said the ordeal was “the worst roller coaster you’ve ever been on” and that at one point the family “really thought we were going to lose him” while his medical team struggled to find the source of his internal bleeding, TODAY.com previously reported.
When Al found out how serious things were, “I still wasn’t 100 percent, but I was definitely doing a lot better and once I knew, I felt like, well , it was bad, but I got over it,” he says. .
Reflecting on his health issues and this time last year, Al says he already felt motivated to come back TODAY and work on his recovery. He was particularly looking forward to his knee replacement surgery, which he underwent in May.
“(I thought) well, what are you going to do? I’m just going to get better, and that’s it, it’s next year,” he said. “I’m not one to look back. I would rather look to the future.”
The road to recovery was long, but patience and positivity helped immensely. “I’ve had several hospital visits and I’m used to going back pretty quickly, but as we get older we don’t go back as quickly,” he says.
“I think (for me) it was a combination of severity and age…but it may take longer and you just have to accept it,” Al says, adding that he used a line from the movie “The Incredibles”. as one of his life mantras: “We get there when we get there.”
“Maybe you didn’t get there as quickly as you wanted, but as long as you get there, you’re good,” he says.
When asked how his health scare changed his outlook on life, Al says it reinforced the idea that “life can turn around on a dime.” … We know it intellectually, but when you’re confronted with it, it really hits home. “.
“(Life) is a fleeting gift given to us, and you must appreciate and honor it,” he adds.
These days, Al says he’s trying to be a lot more intentional about making sure the people in his life know how he feels about them — whether it’s giving them extra hugs or tell them more “I love you” on the phone. “We really have no guarantees,” he said.
Throughout this ordeal, Al has been touched by the outpouring of support and well wishes from his family and fans TODAY.
“It was the little things that aren’t so little… like having the TODAY show crew and Carol being there, that was the first time I really got emotional,” Al says. People continue to check in and ask him how he’s doing more than a year later, he adds, which is “much appreciated.”
“I don’t think you can ignore the power of positive thinking and the power of prayer, and I have benefited immensely from both,” he says.
Another emotional milestone during her recovery was the birth of her first grandchild, Sky, in July.
These days, Al says he tries to stay as healthy as possible. “I try to incorporate a little activity (each day),” he says, adding that lately he starts the day by doing his weather briefings on the treadmill. “This way I took 6,000 to 7,000 steps to reach 10,000 for the day,” says Al.
Even before his health issues and recovery, Al was committed to walking and documenting his progress in the Start TODAY Facebook group. When asked if he has any advice for others, Al says his “do what you can” mindset helps him stay motivated and active every day.
“One of the many things I learned from my wife is that we do what we can. If you can’t do four miles, what if you do a mile or a half-mile ?…Maybe it’s not everything you wanted to do, but tomorrow is another day and you did something.
Al credits his granddaughter, Sky, as “another reason to get back in shape” and looks forward to celebrating the holidays as a first-time grandparent.
This article was originally published on TODAY.com