Monday, March 03, 2008

Tips for Triumphant Living -- Choose Life.

When I was eighteen years old, my father was diagnosed with incurable lymphoma. He was a relatively young man. The doctors said he couldn’t be saved. Their prognosis—two years at most, and only if he chose treatment.

He had five children and a wife so his decision was to reach for more moments. Immediately the physicians put him on a punishing course of chemotherapy and radiation.

What I remember is not that he was dying, but that he was living.

His example of courage and his proactive way of tackling each day has stayed
with me. He eagerly grabbed hold of six additional years.

Terminal illness didn’t stop him. He loved to hunt and so he did, spending days alone in his beloved Cascade Mountains. He never missed a day of work, not until the very end. And nearly every night, after working all day, he’d putter around in his shop or put in hours in the vegetable garden. He adored fishing and sailing and whenever there was opportunity he’d sail. Foul weather only made an excursion better.

He made time for his family—taking us camping or on fishing trips. We also enjoyed water skiing, berry picking and a number of other fun excursions. Often he and my mother would dance about the house, all smiles and with love for each other in their eyes.

My dad embraced every moment. And in the six years that he battled I never heard him complain or ask, “Why me?” Instead there was almost always a smile on his face and mischief in his eyes.

I have a picture of my father that was taken on one of his sailing trips. The seas were heavy, just the way he liked them and a tiny bird, needing a place to rest, landed on the tip of his index finger, a refuge in the storm. Someone on the boat took a photo.

That picture is on my office wall. It and the memory of my father, brave and resolute, has been a refuge to me. It is a wonderful reminder that my father had the audacity to believe he could keep living while dying.

His example shouts—LIVE EVERY MOMENT!

Blessings to you from Bonnie.

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