The joke’s on us. We’re all living to die. In the meantime … the miracles

May 21, 2014

We had to pee in the bottle the other day, all of us for our annual check-up and vaccinations against death in Africa.

I mean we did this one at a time, in privacy in different bottles, of course, and it wouldn’t even matter that much except for the fact that the doctor soon after told me that he thought I would live to be 100.

This was not because of anything the doctor did or didn’t see in my particular bottle, but because of my outstanding blood pressure.

“Good God!” he said. “How do you keep in such fine shape, man? I think I want to put a poster of you up in my clinic room, right here, so I can point out to other men your age just what is possible when you really put your mind to it.”

Well, he said something like that.

In either case, it is a remarkable thing, having three children around day in and day out, week after week, month after … year after … Oh, my.

Yes, having children (such beautiful children, really) and having such remarkably low blood pressure, was news that, naturally, was quickly shared with these children.

My son, always the show-off in math, was especially excited – “Dad, this means that you haven’t even lived half of your life!”

The girls were a little more cautious with this grand possibility.

I suspect this is because while boys tend to think of the information immediately in front of them – food, eat – women, even little women, tend to think more long-term.

So, Dad is going to be around that much longer to torment us with his stupid jokes. So, Dad is going to be around that much longer to hog his i-pad. So, Dad is going to be around and will need that much more for the nursing home, let’s think about the inheritance in all this – we might die even BEFORE dad dies!

Really, think about it. 100 years old. Parliament can only raise the retirement age so far.

Liz, ever the optimist, though, noted that despite this doctor’s fine report, there are other things that I could die from. “You might get hit by a bus before then,” is how she put it.

And I wasn’t so surprised by this truth because it’s one that I share with the children every once in a while in those exact words.

Yes, I might live to be 100 and I might live decades through what my own aging father – Jon and I drove down the highway to see him the other day – calls ones “pine box years.” (“We’re all getting older, but you, son, don’t know yet what it means to go through your pine box years.”)

Or I might get hit by that bus.

Or maybe I’ll fall off a tall bridge one summer day.

Or cancer. Or …

And it is well with my soul.


It is cancer and his name is Gary. I wrote about Gary recently, here. Jean and I went to see him, went to stand by his hospital bed, say a word of prayer for him, this father of two young boys and this fine neighbour of ours.

Gary is dying.

My wife – a doc who knows something about the signs – made this clear when she said after that visit, “You know, you just prayed for a miracle.”

Gary – blood running like tears down his eyes, unable to respond, breathing only with the help of a ventilator – was in such dire shape.

Some of you commented about this. Some of you prayed for Gary, if  not a miracle, then just for comfort. For his boys and his wife too. Thank you for doing so.

Within several days of that post on Gary, he was well enough to be released from ICU. A couple of days later, he asked for his laptop to be brought from home. Gary’s chemo is now in full swing.

His boys have seen him several times and they look forward to the day when, soon hopefully, he will return home. In the meantime, they have come over several times to watch the hockey games.

This is the update on Gary.

Nobody knows how much time — years, months, weeks? — this has all bought. No, we don’t know this any more than you or I know the day, or night, we ourselves will take our last breath.

But it’s something. It’s really something.

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May 21, 2014 • Posted in
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