Monday, September 27, 2010

DAY 900 - Day 750 in Recovery Paradise

One of the advantages of getting wake-up calls on one's health and limited life on earth is that if one is wise enough, you can maximize your remaining time with quality living, giving thanks for all that you do have and not focus on what you don't have.

After the Cancer and cardiology issues, I became fixated on finishing the eight-year project of our "Sunset Magazine" backyard and hosting a party for all the friends and family that have been important to us over the past two years...kind of like being able to go to your own wake and be there with all your friends.

That finally came to pass last Saturday evening.  We hosted a gathering of about 50 people from 3 to 73 in our backyard/patio.  I got a chance to celebrate being two years Cancer-free, the fact that I got to have another birthday (63), and that I finally finished a project that took all my weekends for years (except in 2008 when I could barely walk and had no energy)...and the best part: I got to acknowledge two people that literally kept me going, even in my darkest days.

One is my sister who sent me a great greeting card, with love spilling out,  EVERY DAY for months when I was going through radiation and chemo and was too weak to even sip water.  Not just occasionally, not just once a week, but every day (usually got 2 on Monday because the post office was closed on Sunday).  I saved them all.

The other person is my very best friend, companion and wife, Lise.  We took the occasion to renew our wedding vows, as our 15th wedding anniversary was also about 10 days ago.  I am sure it was tough on her going through my dark 2008 treatment and recovery, as it always is on caregivers.  We emphasized, in our exchange of "words," the reality and importance of commitment in "sickness and in health" with our closest friends and family. We, as it is with most people, had no idea what that meant the first time we shared those words.  Fifteen years ago, I was a single parent with three young boys, and this time my grown sons (and grandson) and our twelve-year-old daughter were there with my sister, brother-in-law and nieces, as well as many friends.

I got the rare privilege to tell everyone, all at once, how important they are in my life and to share three things I learned going through my health challenges:

1. "Be careful what you wish for and be specific when you do."  In early 2008 I wished I could lose that last 5 lbs and spend more time in my "castle."  Then I got diagnosed with Cancer - lost 35 lbs and was trapped in my "dungeon" for half a year...not what I had in mind at all.

2.  A quote from poet Carl Sandburg: "Time is the coin of your life.  It is the only coin you will ever have.  Spend it wisely, lest other people spend it for you."

3.  "The most important things in life...aren't THINGS."  Art Buchwald

The entire evening was a most satisfying moment.  Just about everyone we care about was there.  I got to say thank you and acknowledge their value in my life and re-commit my love and friendship with my best friend and wife in their presence.

I hope to live many more years (in health and strength) and enjoy all that a long satisfying life has to offer, but that evening completed my "bucket list."  All the rest of my days are icing on the cake. 

Song of the Day - My Best Days Are Ahead of Me - Danny Gokey

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