I have a good friend who was diagnosed with inoperable cancer in the fall of 2006. At the age of 52 he was given one year to live but has beat the odds. But it is his faith and perspective and essential humanity that I celebrate here. I can't post a better post Christmas, New Year message than this and to hell with the Iowa Caucuses (Cauciii?)!
I referenced this Caring Bridge website before (it's the best use of the Internet yet). Read it here or make do with my excerpts below:
My dear friends at the chemo clinic...
Friday Cher took me to a final appointment with Dr Sanyal to discuss my care now being provided by Hospice Care. After over a year of interacting with them weekly or more, I was saying good bye to this incredible group of compassionate people who got me through chemo, and all the effects that came with cancer and it's treatments.
Dr Sanyal exceeded my expectations at every turn. The staff made every effort for my constant comfort and to soothe my fears as they arose. They treated whoever came with me the same way. They became family! And while we didn't reach a cure for me, I hope they know what an uplift they always were to my spirits, what an important difference they made in my life. I felt the love. Thank you seems like such small words for my gratitude.
HAPPY NEW YEARS...
Well I made it to 2008! What a year I am putting behind me. Cher picked me up some rye bread, onions, and raw beef (yes that's what I wrote... it's a old tradition from Milwaukee you'd find at weddings, etc.) and cheese, crackers, shrimp and cocktail sauce for her and mom. Also had hats & party favors for us to watch the Times Square ball fall. Just a quiet evening for the three of us to rejoice in the blessing of being able to welcome 2008 together.
A brief note to say.... I'm going through a whole new experience as I'm seeing people all reacting differently to my condition. I do hope you don't pull away because you don't know what to say to me in an email or a visit or phone call. I'm still just ME :->
I am grateful for the Holidays....
It gave me something to embrace for my time left. Probably one of my most meaningful as I found pleasure in so many little things that one passes over when you are so busy with life you aren't living it. There are times I get up at 2am and sit in living room, all my little lights and decorations turned on, and go through my Christmas cards or look at each ornament on the tree.
And the season has certainly brought me the greatest gifts... OF FRIENDSHIP..... something not sitting under my tree but forever in my heart. I never knew people cared so much, you humble me.
Cancer changes you...
and those around you. Some cancer patients are angry, bitter, withdraw, become despondent. I choose to use it as an eye opener to things I was overlooking, to find the pleasure in little things, to let go of past hurts, grudges, negativity, and surround myself with friends. I'd spent many a year acting more like a lone wolf.
All treatments have been stopped, my breathing is labored as my liver tumors swell, and my care is now shifted to just controlling my pain these next couple weeks.
I don't want to get to the end of my life and find that I lived just the length of it. I want to have lived the width of it as well.
Well done, good and noble friend!
More about work
If you are like me, once a year you have to endure "Bring Your Child to Work Day." A good day to call in sick.
Bah, humbug. I want to Put My Child to Work. That is my wish for Madison and America. I say, put the little bastards to work.
Sure, pulling the soot-faced little chimney sweeps out of the flues and giving them a soapy bath made a great Mary Poppins movie. Taking their grimy fingers off the textile looms and placing them in daycare boosted Sesame Street's Nielsen ratings. But we lost something when we said children should not venture into the workplace until after they have achieved their master's degrees.
Work is the human condition. My Grandma Rose raised nine children and if they weren't candling eggs in lieu of kindergarten they were scalding hogs for the threshing crew, which included her older children. They all prospered. My old man pulled me out of the sandbox and put my at the controls of a Farmall H tractor. The grain may have suffered but it grew me up.
There is a reason for teenaged gangs in my environs. No one is making them work. They are young and strong and full of testosterone and idle. Work puts young people in close proximity to adults, from whom they must take direction. Work requires purpose and produces results that even young people can see and feel.
I rang up Stephen Blue, delinquency services manager for Dane County Human Services. "Work is a learned behavior," he told me. "We ask 'what's wrong with kids today that they don't know how to work?' Well, we haven't taught them how."
Mr. Blue has a great program called Operation Fresh Start that puts "kids who have run out of options" to work rehabbing old homes and building new ones. "It's no nonsense. It's working as a team, confronting drug use, delaying gratification -- building a house is one of the ultimate delayed gratifications."
The $156,000 program reaches 150 kids a year but should reach 100 times that number but can't -- not just because of dollars. These kids are, to a great extent, adjudicated. But how do you get to kids before they jump over your fences and stamp out your flowers, tag your apartment building, and steal your bicycles? For starters, let's leave the minimum wage alone.
We need more young men, yes, especially -- young men -- sweeping barbershop floors and running prescriptions like George Bailey did for Mr. Gower; shoveling snow for the widder women. That is what connects the younger generation to all the good old lessons learnable only from the older generation. The lessons that got this human race past the animal me-only stage and into the larger circle of civilization, aka: long-term human sustainability. A thing called work.