One of the few “gifts” that comes from dying as the result of a terminal illness, rather than a sudden and unexpected death, is the perspective of clarity that it brings to your everyday choices.
Knowing that your time on this earth is limited, I imagine that everyone would be far more thoughtful and deliberate in how you choose to treat other people, spend your time, and express your feelings. You could also choose to share what you learned from the experience in your obituary.
Dr. Hal Balyeat, Sr. did just that. He is the father of a childhood friend of mine who I have lost track of. In my online search for information about her (Elaine Balyeat), I was able to find quite a bit of information about her father Hal, who I remember very well as being a busy young physician and father to three busy children. Within his obituary were his words of wisdom:
“The disease changed my life in two very important ways. Prior to the diagnosis, I considered myself a good father. After the diagnosis, I became a father who hugged and kissed his children. This change has had a very positive effect on my life and the life of my family. The other change has to do with the way I view life. I quit worrying about the small things, which make up most of life. Interpersonal relations are incredibly complex, but we oftentimes make them much more complex and difficult than need be because our priorities are misguided…. I believe my disease has made me a more compassionate tolerant physician and a more loving husband and father.” Dr. Hal Balyeat, Sr., Oklahoma City OK
His words really touched me and I will now try to take his advice, to see complex personal relationships more simply. I will remember that, at the core of all my personal relationships, is the foundation of love. MKR
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