She Did It Her Way
I started this blog to pay tribute to our troops and in memory of my nephew, Michael, who was killed in Kuwait on March 5, 2004. The picture at the top is Michael as he slept in route to Kuwait. Over time my blog has allowed me a venue to speak out on behalf of the troops, Michael, and events in our country. I never thought I would again be writing here to pay tribute to another loved one.
As I write, Michael’s Mom, my sister, Jean, lays dying of brain cancer in a local VA facility. She is now facing her final journey. Whether it be hours, days or several weeks, we don’t know. What I do know is how deeply sad I feel to watch her struggle with such dignity and grace as she still holds onto to life.
We were all told when her biopsy was performed that she had very little time. Her brain cancer is the most prolific and deadly type. She has valiantly lived several months past that projection.Through it all, what has stood out most to me is the grace and dignity she has demonstrated as she fights this final battle, the battle for life.
She has never once complained about pain. She has never expressed anger. She has simply lived every day enjoying as much as possible our visits, the many visits from friends and well wishers, and all the cards and presents everyone brought her.She refuses to ask for something for pain, though we all know she suffers immense pain at times, especially now. When she was paralyzed on her right side she didn’t complain, she just started using her left side.
She refused to allow anyone to feed her until she was completely unable to feed herself. She has patiently “suffered” our ministrations of lotion to various parts of her body; allowed us to fuss over her sheets; comb her hair! She rolled her left eye to the left when she was able when we said or did something she considered humorous or absurd. And always, even when she could no longer work the remote control, she keeps her TV on for the company when no one is there and throughout the night. She frequently gazes with love at her pictures of Mike and his kids hanging on the walls in her room. She clutches a small picture of Mike in her one good hand, night and day; or, squeezes a green exercise ball I gave her to help her hold onto the use of her left hand as long as possible.
At times when she thinks we won’t see it, a lone tear drop slips past her eye lids to be quickly wiped away so we won’t see it. As her life rapidly fades away in front of us all, I think of all we have shared. I think about all the good times and sadly, the regrets for missed opportunities to tell her how much I loved and admired her. Now all I can do is hold her hand and tell her how much I love her; cry when she isn’t able to see me do so; and, feel the terrible pain the cuts through my heart like a knife as I see er slip from our lives.
And, so as I think back over our lives and how much I love Jean, I can find no words to pay tribute better than the words of a song that to me epitomizes her as a person and the way she lived and loved her life, family, friends, grandchildren and Mike:
And now, the end is here
And so I face the final curtain
My friend, I’ll say it clear
I’ll state my case, of which I’m certain
I’ve lived a life that’s full
I traveled each and ev’ry highway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Regrets, I’ve had a few
But then again, too few to mention
I did what I had to do and saw it through without exemption
I planned each charted course, each careful step along the byway
And more, much more than this, I did it my way
Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew
When I bit off more than I could chew
But through it all, when there was doubt
I ate it up and spit it out
I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way
I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried
I’ve had my fill, my share of losing
And now, as tears subside, I find it all so amusing
To think I did all that
And may I say, not in a shy way,
“Oh, no, oh, no, not me, I did it my way”
For what is a man, what has he got?
If not himself, then he has naught
To say the things he truly feels and not the words of one who kneels
The record shows I took the blows and did it my way!
Yes, it was my way
“Written by: Paul Anka, Claude Francois, Gilles Thibault, Jacques Revaux Arranger: Don Costa”
Performed by Frank Sinatra
I love you Jean! We all love you! God Bless.
May your final journey be peaceful. Tell Mike, Dad, and Bubba hi for us all. I pray we all follow your example of a life well lived and live with all the dignity, love, patience, understanding toward each other you showed us all.
On Friday, February 19, 2010, Jean passed away. We were at her side as she quietly went to sleep. Now Jean and Michael are together again! Be happy Jean. We all love you and we will miss you. But, knowing you are now with Mike again and at peace eases the pain we all feel.