I did some traveling recently. I visited a man I’ve known since childhood. He is now 91 years old, and he still has the same great sense of humor I recall from years ago.
Unfortunately, there was a falling out within the family some years ago. I understood what had happened, but I was not in a position to intervene. As a result this man and his wife were pretty much isolated from the rest of the family for years. Though infrequently, I continued to maintain contact.
Not long ago, I received a telephone call from this man. He was obviously making an effort to connect.
As time went on, I learned more. I now know he has cancer, and that he is making an effort to connect with people who have mattered in his life.
He is going deaf and that makes it difficult to carry on a conversation with him, but he is still the kind of caring man I remember from years gone by. I know that, in the course of his life, he and his wife did not always have an easy time of it. However, throughout all of those ups and downs, he has kept on going, accepted his lot, and moved on.
I saw all of this again when I visited him. Here was a man facing his fate, but determined to keep going for as long as he is able. He was obviously appreciative of the effort I had made to visit. He understood where things were headed for him, and he was making the effort to let those he cared about KNOW he cared – while there was still time.
I admire this man. He has met adversity throughout his life, and yet he has rolled on. He has approached his life with humor, sincerity, and good will. Now he was saying goodbye…and he knew it.
I only hope that, when my time comes, I too will be able to gaze into the Face of Death, accepting its inevitability – as amicably and as gracefully as I was privileged to witness this past weekend.