There was a man I knew that passed away a couple of years ago. He was quiet and direct. He was strong and intimidating. He was smart and intelligent. He was living with cancer the last time I saw him and he was doing it with dignity.
There is a man that I know that lives after burying his partner. He is chatty and direct. He is strong and accessible. He is smart and intelligent. He is living with the memory of the man that lived with cancer and he does it with dignity.
I am honored that I got to know Uncle Bill, as I called him, before he passed away. He was diagnosed after I moved to California so visiting wasn’t often. I didn’t keep much in touch. I wish I had, wonder how much more I would have learned from him.
But I have Dan, his partner here with me for the week. I get to see the way he has graciously continued his life. Traveling and learning and teaching. He even sat with me for an episode of my show ‘Put It Together’.
We talked about caregivers and how they should take care of themselves and what to expect. He spoke with such eloquence and clarity that it brought tears to my eyes. He shared the panel with a dear friend that is going through the journey with his father.
Among the important messages that I got was: make every moment count, let the person with cancer mark the pace, and talk about everything. I really do wish I had taken the time to talk more about anything or nothing. The show will be up in the air soon and you can hear it from him.
Remember if you are caring for a person with a terminal disease, face the facts straight on. Don’t sugar coat, who are you trying to fool? A person that is sick needs to know what they are fighting. A person fighting needs to know what ammunition he has to fire with.
When I was diagnosed with AIDS and lying in the hospital, I wanted to know where things were. I asked the doctor, “Am I dying?”, he had no answer. I asked a priest, “Am I dying?”, he had no answer. I asked God, “Am I dying?”… Here I am!
But should that have been my time to go and bid farewell, I would have wanted to know. So that I could have those conversation with the folks that I needed to talk to and say the things I needed to say. That is one of the things that Dan mentioned in the interview.
He had the chance to say everything, nothing left unsaid. What a gift that is. Should a person die in an accident there are things unsaid and feelings scattered. So give you and the person that is sick time to put those feelings together and have a good conversation.
I have two hats that were given to me by Dan. Those were the hats that Uncle Bill wore during chemo. I love those hats. I ware them with pride in honor of a man that taught me the meaning of ‘Living Life with Dignity’
Dedicated to Uncle Bill.