As I watched my husband’s father lie in bed near death, trapped in his own body, frustrated, and unable to communicate effectively, his every need was taken care of by someone else. It was my great honor to be one of those caregivers.
I wondered why he must suffer. I wondered why death must come so slowly. Just how long can one go on with no food or water?
Joe had been a chicken farmer, insurance salesman, veteran, and father to eight children. He is preceded in death by his daughter.
I’ve never seen anyone keep himself busy the way he did. Never did a stronger, may I say more stubborn, work ethic exist. In 95 degree heat and wretched humidity, the garden was tended, the pool skimmed, and odd items fixed, without fail. He never stopped. I’m reminded of this quote:
Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming “Wow! What a Ride! --Hunter S. Thomson
As a Crossfit coach, I will program AMRAP workouts. We are all familiar with the term and know that the shorter the time cap, the harder the workout. AMRAPs are grueling; by the time you’re done, your body spent and utterly exhausted, yet your mind has been in some way elevated.
As I see it, this man lived his life like an AMRAP. When you only have 90 years, you’ve got to squeeze quite a bit in!
To see someone who was once strong, powerful, and in charge of his world to decline and require so much care and attention is heartbreaking. Why? What’s the point? Why must it hurt us—the living-- so much?
I believe I know the answer now.
Seeing him suffering was more difficult than losing him. I think that is the very reason we linger as we do in the passage from life to death.
We must. So others can let us go.
Serve them as they need to be served. Honor them as they deserve. And when your teammate is struggling with the very last reps of the very last round and your coach is getting ready to call out, “Time!” shout his name and cheer for him like nothing else in this world matters!