Thursday, September 26, 2013

A time for reflection

My sister's friend in California, Janet, has had a serious of tragedies lately that rival anything I've ever read. I know Janet (not well, but I've spent time with her), and I wanted to share this because it should make us all pause to think...

I met Janet's parents when I was in Cali for a visit. Her mother, Dora "the Explorer", was an 80-year-old firecracker of a woman who adored my books. She was thrilled to meet me and couldn't stop talking about how she would impress her friends by telling them she had met me, the author. When I got home, I sent her a box of books and she was over the moon happy.

Janet's 85-year-old father was diagnosed with Alzheimer's a month or two ago. They tried to use home care for him, but he was getting increasingly agitated and hard to handle, so they put him into nursing care. Around this time Dora started to feel unwell and she, too, went into the hospital.

Three weeks ago, Janet met with her father's doctors in the morning and was told he had leukemia and it was terminal. That afternoon she met with her mother's doctors and was told Dora had stomach cancer and it was inoperable.

Can you imagine?

I knew how much Dora loved my writing, so I rushed to print a draft copy of a book I had already dedicated to her. I had it bound and sent it to her last week.

Her father died on September 15 and her mother died on September 22 -- one week to the day after her father. My sister visited Dora before she died and Dora showed her the manuscript. She was so excited to read my book. But she never got the chance.

This has hit me like a ton of bricks because it makes me realize how fleeting life is. We take so much for granted, and probably the biggest thing we take for granted is that we'll have a tomorrow to finish that book, take that trip, visit those friends.

We may not have that day. As I've gotten older, this has come to be far more real to me than it ever was. So I'm starting to work on my Bucket List and you know what? I'll think of Dora as I do it and I'll smile. We never know who we're touching with our writing. I had the great good luck to meet someone who valued my work so very highly. I'll never forget her.


Margo Hoornstra said...

JL, What a wonderful gift you received. One to cherish. Life is precious.

Jannine Gallant said...

Wow, JL. Wow. Can't think of anything else to say. My heart goes out to your friend.

Leah St. James said...

How very sad, JL. And how true are your comments. Like Margo said, it's a gift to recognize the blessings we receive in so many ways. You've given me something to think about as well.

Diane Burton said...

What tragedy. You're absolutely right about not knowing how long we have. Enjoying each moment and not putting off things help. Hugs.

Barbara Edwards said...

I learned young that life is short and joy to be treasured. I hope I taught it to my children.
I'm glad she told you how much she enjoyed your books.