The Ark

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With the news today of the passing of Walter Cronkite, an icon of my childhood and throughout my life, and all the other recent deaths of celebrated figures, does anyone else find themselves dwelling on their own mortality? I mean, we may not have known these people personally, but they
did exist somewhere in our synapses and grey matter. Maybe I'm feeling this more than those who have children? I always hear that children are a person's 'legacy'. Is that how those of you who are parents feel? I'm feeling like chunks of my past are disappearing, I have no control over the matter obviously. Eventually i'll probably lose my own memory of my past, then I'll pass with no legacy.

I should just try to live for the moment, but the moment kinda sucks right now. I'd like to hear how you all feel about all these passings and your own mortality.

Views: 13

Comment by JustAnotherUserName on July 18, 2009 at 10:55am
My son Eric died when he was 11. Obviously he didn't leave behind children or a body of work. Nor did he amass riches, have a distinguished career, or wage world peace.

But he did leave behind a huge legacy.

He was diagnosed with a brain tumor when he was 8 and died 3 years later. Over 400 people attended his standing-room-only memorial service.

He did have a smile everyone still talks about. He personified grace and courage. He had a strong faith he never hesitated to share. He smiled one day and told me I shouldn't worry because God told him everything would be okay if he had to leave. Due to the many unusual aspects of his illness (no short-term memory for one), he had no idea that his illness was terminal.

He lived love. He loved his brothers (age 6 when he died) to distraction. They don't ever remember him saying a harsh word. They do remember his tender, loving care. He was gentle and wise. He loved music. He never cried for himself, asked "why me," or complained. On the way to yet another chemo treatment once, with the barf bowl in his lap, his bald head sporting his a Green Bay Packer's cap, his wheelchair in the back, he looked at me and said, "I have the greatest life!" And he meant it.

Since he had no short-term memory, he could never remember that he had lost the use of the right side of his body. Despite our constant best efforts, he'd fall. One horrible morning, I walked into his room and found him curled up on the floor next to the bed he'd rolled out of during the night, with our cat Tazzy curled up next to him. He woke up, smiled, looked puzzled for a moment, shrugged it off and said, "Hi Mom." And the day went on....

Not a day goes by, especially with the advent of online social networking, that Eric's name isn't mentioned, not in a sad way, but in a positive, happy, smiling way. Frequently, people tell me that their lives changed, too, after experiencing Eric.

After his death, I made some unusual choices for myself that I never would have made had my perspective on what was important in life not been so drastically altered. I continue to make those types of choices to this day, and I encourage my kids and all those around me to do the same. I pick and choose my battles more carefully. I strive to always be positive. I took flying lessons. I married someone I have nothing in common with, yet love with a passion. It's difficult sometimes. I moved to California. I make it an absolute point to make the best possible decision at any given moment so that I will have no regrets later. I am happy.

These things I learned from my son. In fact, I want to be just like Eric when I grow up, and I'm not the only one.

That is the legacy of an 11-year old boy.
Comment by photo2010 on July 18, 2009 at 11:32am
Eric was lucky to have a loving Mom like you. I guess my living with chronic illness for 20 years and now taking care of my 86 year old Mother with next to no help from family is getting to me. I don't think I can take much more.
Comment by JustAnotherUserName on July 18, 2009 at 11:57am
Kevin, I so wish there were something practical I could do to help you. I know this has been weighing on you for such a long time. All our good thoughts are nice, but it's not any sort of a solution for you.
Comment by photo2010 on July 18, 2009 at 12:09pm
Ruth, I appreciate your kindness. Sometimes there are no practical solutions. I just take things a minute at a time. Thank you for your kind words.
Comment by JustDee on July 19, 2009 at 4:40am
Kevin,

I believe our children are our legacy, be that good or bad I don't know. I think of the legacy that my father left behind...and well, lets just say we are all screwed up... except for Syd of course (wink wink). Not to make light of the situation, but I think what you are feeling with the passing of Walter Cronkite is probably closer to what I feel having lost two siblings. I feel like I have lost a part of myself. There are so many times I will be talking to Syd and one of us will say, "remember when...?" and the other will say,,,"NO" but then we are reminded of huge parts of our childhoods that totally escaped us..so, I often wonder what my brother and sister took with them. Not that Walter Cronkite would hold your childhood memories, but perhaps seeing him evokes a feeling and reminds you of days gone by.

As far as caring for your mother, I can only imagine how difficult that can be, but as hard as it is, enjoy it. Enjoy the time you have with her, because before you know it, she will be gone and perhaps you will be left with a feeling of regret. Cherish all of it because now that my dad is gone, I so wish I had spent more time with him. I wish that when he got sick I had asked him to stay with me so that I could take care of him...I know its hard in the short term, but in the long term, you will be glad you had this time with her.

I am not sure I know where you live, but there are supposed to be all kinds of services out there for people in your situation. I'm sure you have looked into it by now but if you need any help with research, I use to do that for a living, research that is. Let me know if I can help you with that at all.
Comment by photo2010 on July 19, 2009 at 12:44pm
@Christine..you ARE helping. Just by your compassion and kindness. Your words mean a lot. <3
Comment by photo2010 on July 19, 2009 at 1:09pm
@JuatDee..I feel the loss of my Dad 13 years ago and can't believe it still. One day he collapsed, my Mom revived him with CPR while I flagged down the first responders in what was the worst blinding snowstorm of that winter. We didn't know my Dad was sick. He was gone a few months later. About six monhs ago my Mom collapsed, not breathing. Somehow I got to her and gave her CPR and she revived. My Mom and I have been each other's caregivers for years. She spent six weeks in a nursing home, but is home and doing much better. But I live in constant fear. if she passes, even though I have sibling 3 hours away, I will be alone in this world. Being disabled and alone..is not a life worth living in my opinion.

We have a couple who help us, non professional, but professional help is out of our reach. I appreciate your offer of research help. You made me think..Cronkite WAS like a surrogate Father, to the whole nation, so maybe his passing touches off some feelings. I am sorry for your losses..I can only imagine the impact that has. Thank you for your kind thoughts and offer of help. <3
Comment by NatureJunkie on July 27, 2009 at 4:08pm
I remember being in my grandmother's house when I was five, and we'd just heard on the news about the death of an aged movie star. She said, "All the great ones are dying off. Pretty soon there won't be any more left."

What all the celebrity deaths have brought home to me, especially if it's the death of a rock star, is what it was like to see things from my grandparents' perspective, when they were watching their generation being supplanted by another.
Comment by Jim on July 27, 2009 at 5:20pm
Hi, Kevin. I'm chiming in a little late here, but oh well. It's my belief that in every moment of every day, each one of us is leaving a legacy of some kind. Everything we say or do has a ripple effect in the universe. I know this sounds kind of airy-fairy, but I believe it. We don't need to produce a child, or even create a material thing, for a part of us to live on after we're gone. All we need to do is live. For example, I've read countless comments made by you on LiveVideo and the Ark. Each one of them has had an effect on me, whether I've responded to it or not. You've created a legacy in my mind as a very caring and positive person. In its own way, that has built up my faith in humankind, and has helped me keep my heart open to others, thereby affecting them as well.

You mentioned that if your mother dies, you will then be alone with your disability. To what extent are you disabled? Are you housebound? I know you have a lot of friends on the Internet, so in that regard you're not really alone. Are you able to get out and mix with people in the "real world"? If you are, there's always a chance to make some new friends, and not feel so isolated. I'm sure it's more difficult with a disability, but nothing's impossible if you set your mind to it.

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