When An Old Friend Dies, “An Ageing Badge of Courage”

Death is never easy for the person that is dying, of course, nor the family and friends engaged in the process. It is especially poignant for friends that have made a significant difference in our lives. One such friend is currently in hospice as we wait for the inevitable end. We are no longer allowed to visit at the family’s request and those were also his wishes, we were told, and we respected it.

My last visit was last week. He gently told me that he hadn’t realized that he had such an impact on many of our lives. There had been a steady stream of visitors while he held court in the VA Hospital, truly a palace of hospitals. They all told him how he had touched their lives, and many were significant. Though he was terminally ill, he remained jovial and in unbelievably good spirits. He told me that the doctors couldn’t believe how his mental stability remained so healthy, while his body failed. I believed it.

This dear man has been a warrior, a pundant, and a fierce newspaper writer. He is a Rotarian and an author. Though he is in and out of consciousness now, his philosophy has been to always ask a person about themselves, and remembered what was important to that person, and ask them again when he saw them later. He liked to make people feel friendship, and happy, and loved. He was of great assistance to others when they needed his help. For me, he told the local newspapers to “print her stuff” when I was writing press releases for work and charity. And, they did since he had requested it. Once when I wrote an article, he critiqued it so rigidly that it almost wasn’t mine anymore but he encouraged me take the credit because he wanted me to learn to write better. I think I do because of him. He said to look for the good whenever you can because people really do want to hear what is good. It made me smile since he wrote publically very critically of politicians using the many historical references that he was so famous for. Learning from this person in his eighties, was a gift he gave to many. How lucky we were to sit with him and bask in the glow of his knowledge.

He remembered to me how much he enjoyed dancing with his wife as if he would be seeing her soon. I touched his knee as I gave him the new Rotary pin for the year, and left it where he could see it. When I was walking out the door he quietly said, “Come again anytime, I am always glad to see you.” I am sure that he said that to everyone that visited him. I would expect nothing less.

As we wait for the end, we still consider the living that he touched, made better, and changed us for his having been here. His grace in dying should be a lesson to us all to not regret anything as we live our best life, and be thankful that we lived it.

The ageing process is inevitable and all generations should understand and expect it bravely. We shouldn’t let the fact that someone is old or infirm deter us from making contact to enjoy their company and learn from them. We should look at their wrinkles and gray hair as an “Ageing Badge of Courage” and try to be like them…because we inevitably will.

Thanks for reading;)

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