His Name Was Nelson Levine . . . A Time To Reflect & A Reason To Take Inventory.
On Sunday, Anne and I will be going to a Funeral, to help Bury a Cousin, who after a short Battle with Cancer, who was somewhat younger than me, in his mid 60’s, he Succumbed to a very Aggressive Disease.
It’s always TOUGH to Bury someone who you care about, such as a Good Friend, but perhaps, it’s even Tougher to Bury someone who is a Direct Part of your Bloodline, who has shared so much of the Same Family History.
ANNE AND I SAW NELSON . . . a few days before he died. I stood for several Minutes in the Palliative Care Room of the Montreal Mount Sinai Hospital, where Nelson was Surrounded by Family and Friends, all knowing that his Demise was Imminent.
I held his hand for a short while, not knowing if he was aware of my presence or not, since he was quite Drugged-Up, very Weakened, and a Physical Shadow of his Former Self, and saw a Tiny Tear Drop Form in the Corner of his Eye.
I have no idea if the Tear Drop was from Recognition, the Drugs, or the Disease . . . But what I do know, is that it made me THINK once again about my own Mortality, and who I am in this World, and what would happen to Anne and our Animal Family, IF I WAS TO GO BEFORE HER.
It also made me think about the things that I do, and the LIFE-STYLE Anne and I have chosen, with which to live-out perhaps this Second–To-Last Portion of our Lives. Partially here in Canada, and Partially in Texas, a State we’ve Grown to Love.
AND IT MADE ME THINK ABOUT WHAT I WRITE & ADVOCATE . . . since Life is so EPHEMERAL, that we can NEVER really know what Tomorrow will Bring.
IT TORE MY HEART OUT . . . When I had to Bury my Parents, seven years apart, since I was fortunate to have Parents who were as Dedicated to their Children, as any Two People Could Have Ever Been. My Parents were really Decent Folk, who Raised their Family Right, through all Manner of Trials & Tribulations.
But I Was Also Plenty Distraught . . . Over the Years at the Passing of some of my Close Friends, and People I hardly knew, but knew well enough, because of their Incredible Contributions to their Fellow Mankind in Terms of Treasure, Personality, Thought & Quiet Generosity.
AND THEN . . . I thought about my own Life-History – Facing Cancer some 20-Years Ago, and then a Stroke almost 4-Years Ago . . . from both of which I have fully Recovered.
And I Wondered . . . Because Life is so Short, Ephemeral, and Unknown from Day to Day; am I really living my Life, to the Best Degree That I can?
Would It Be Better . . . if I Sat Back for once in my Life, and simply Watched the Parade go by, INSTEAD of Being in the Parade, and from Time to Time Leading It?
I HAVE BEEN PSYCHOLOGICALLY BEATEN UP SO MANY TIMES . . . I FEEL LIKE A PIÑATA:
But It Was NEVER Just About Me . . . For more than 44-Years – Whatever I’ve been Through, Anne Has Been Through With Me, both Good & Bad, sometimes VERY GOOD . . . And Sometimes REALLY BAD.
AND NEVER DID ANNE COMPLAIN:
SO AT TIMES LIKE THIS . . . when you’re Facing the End of Someone’s Life Journey, who is about your own Age, who as far as we know, will never have to Face Good Times & Bad Times Again – IT REALLY MAKES YOU THINK.
SO I SPOKE ABOUT IT WITH ANNE – AT LENGTH . . . Because I worried, as I am wont to do, that perhaps the Life I gave Anne was Too Much of a Roller Coaster, and not enough of a Smooth Ride – to which she basically said, as she always did, since this isn’t the First Time I Broached this Subject:
“If I Didn’t Like What You Do, And Love You For It, I would Have Left Long Ago”.
WE HAVE READ & HEARD THE DEFINITION OF WHAT MAKES A LIFE WORTH-LIVING:
I Wish I Knew . . . Because As Far As I Can See – There’s No Real Answer.
Does Raising a Strong & Decent Family Make A Life Worth-Living?
Or How About . . . Providing Healthcare, Social Services, or the Teaching of Values, Reading, Writing & ‘Rithmetic?
Does Exploring the Outer Universe and/or the Inner Universe Make A Life Worth-Living? Or being a Scientist, Shaking the Knowledge of the World to its Core?
Or Does Just Being Alive Make A Life Worth-Living?
OR DOES BEING THE RICHEST PERSON WITH ALL THE GOODIES . . . Make A Life Worth Living? Or being at the Top of the Political Heap Make A Life Worth Living Even More?
WE’VE ALWAYS LIVED LIFE WELL . . . BETWEEN THE BUMPS IN THE ROAD:
OR IN MY CASE . . . Worrying – Because, besides giving my UNDYING LOVE & RESPECT TO ANNE, and some of the Finer Things in Life, but not the Riches I could have Given Her, and Perhaps Should have Given Her if I focused my Attention on Creating Wealth, Opposed to Socio/Political Activism . . . I could have Given Anne a Much Easier Life, which she so Richly Deserved.
So Does That Make My Life Somewhat Less Worth-Living?
BUT THEN AGAIN . . . As Anne Points out to me – If I chose a Different Path, who would have Done the things that I have Done, and would be Doing the things I still Do?
SO WHEN I THINK BACK – To the Life Anne and I HAVE LED TOGETHER . . . & CONTINUE TO LEAD, we have done so much, and have Touched so many People, that all the Bruises Along The Way, were nothing More than the result of Travelling Down a BUMPY ROAD, which to some degree everyone of us has to Travel, while some prefer to take the Well Paved AutoRoute, with only the Occasional Bumps and Cracks, while Others of us, Intentionally Or Not, Choose the BACK ROADS . . . FOR THE RIDE OF OUR LIFE.
One Can NEVER Be Totally Satisfied With The Journey Of Our Life . . . Because there’s always so much more to do, and NEVER enough Time to get it all Done.
I HAVE FOUND MY PLACE IN LIFE . . . Blessed With A Partner & Best Friend, Who Has Already Proven That She Will Stick With Me Through Thick & Thin, As I Will With Her Until My Dying Day.
I AM ALSO BLESSED TO HAVE THE ABILITY TO COMMUNICATE . . . with which to some Extent, I can Give SUCCOR to those in Need, CONFIDENCE to Those who are Doubtful, & HOPE to those who are Feeling Subjugated.
AFTER SEEING & TOUCHING MY COUSIN FOR THE LAST TIME . . . And once Again Taking an Emotional Inventory of Who and What I Am . . . And Knowing that I have the Full Approbation of my BEST FRIEND & LIFE PARTNER, Until Death Do Us Part, I’m Feeling Pretty Good About The Value Of The Life I’ve Thus Far Lived.
I AM NOT A RELIGIOUS MAN . . . So I don’t Presume to Know Where My Cousin Is & Whether Or Not his Soul Has Come To Rest. But What I Do Know . . . Is that through his Family and Friends, his Memory will Not Be Forgotten.
In Nelson’s Last Act – where I am personally Concerned, he gave me the Gift & Impetus of Reflection, to Rethink Who I Am, What I’ve Done, & Whether My Life Has Been Worth-Living . . . Nelson – Rest In Peace.
As I read your comments I was also saddened, I have been saddened to the corruption and the devaluation of our Judeo-Christian values in our land. I am so thankful for joint efforts, how meager they are in some people’s eye. It is a joy, an honor to stand at Never Again Rallies with my Jewish friends making a proclamation of unity for those values, which include the stand against a holocaust. Thanks for the editorial
Introspective self-analysis, if indulged completely and with brutal honesty, can yield a trove of information about oneself. IMHO the best we can do is aim the highest we can and set an example. If you can’t lead the parade, at least march in it. Doing nothing reveals cowardice and, ultimately, selfishness. Too many people are so obsessed with pettiness and so withdrawn from the world they don’t even know there is a parade. Howard, if you keep leading the parade I will follow you over a cliff.
Yes agree with your perceptions. At 66 I too at times think of my mortality. My wife,
Friend, partner, my 2 daughters. Have I done right with my family? Would I have done anything
Different. Not likely. Nice editorial. Thanks.
Often when I read your articles a tear comes to my eye. They are a sign of compassion not weekness.Let us all live our lives with respect for one another.
Howard, my condolences on your loss. This post was incredible and has me in tears! What an beautiful question, What’s A Life Worth Living? It helps you put your life in perspective. Thank you Howard.
Why isn’t anyone actively going after Hillary Clinton, Loretta Linch, Comey, Debby Washerman Schwartz???All the cover up in the FBI that Come has done has to be brought out and he has to be prosecuted..no longer one sided…and coverups have to be brought out for all of the public to see. . Marge Booton, Missouri
There is NO EASY path in life. We all make our OWN CHOICES. We either choose the path to ACCOMPLISH something worthwhile, or CHOOSE to just “SIT BY” and DO NOTHING! You wrote that You HAVE BEEN PSYCHOLOGICALLY BEATEN UP SO MANY TIMES that you FEEL LIKE A PIÑATA and that’s because you just didn’t “SIT BY”. You ACCOMPLISHED MANY THINGS! You are also very lucky to have ANNE by your side! WHAT MAKES A LIFE WORTH-LIVING is to STAND for the TRUTH and to SPREAD IT, which you have ACCOMPLISHED! AMEN!
Howard, I am so sorry for your loss. I thank you for sharing your deepest & most personal thoughts.
Maybe it’s the reason Julie & I think the world of you. But more than that, Howard, you remind us
of that bird who refused to be like all the others and so eager to fly higher. That bird who insisted on following
his heart and to seek his own dreams: Jonathan Livingston Seagull
Continue to Fly High, Howard….and More Power To You. ~ Peace ~ “The Brucester”
This was an important time for you both, if nothing more than to validate your intentions together. Many different roads lead to a life worth living. God presents us with various opportunities we can take. As Yogi said…”When you reach a fork in the road take it.” If you listen carefully it will always be the correct decision. Listening is such a big part of it, and now looking back where you two have been and have come to…you know you are in the right place. Peaceful & satisfying isn’t it?
Once we choose a path out of the infinite paths to choose from…..all we can do is thank God he gave us that freedom. Your friend,
I’m so sorry for your loss. I wish I’d known Howard, I would have done my best to help him. I’m now the longest and sole survivor despite the horrendous bullying, threats and coercion from the “doctors” that were desperate to poison me for fun and profit when they KNEW–had to know that chemo doesn’t touch it–and if they don’t they need to turn in their medical licenses. They did everything but hold a GUN to my head to try to force me to let them chemo me. You’re in my prayers, God Bless.
Howard, magnificent blog as usual. You are a man smoking men. As Popeye says “I am the master of me own dealing”.
You have chosen well.
Howard as I read your editorial today, it dawned upon me that you and Anne don’t have any children or if you do you never mention them in your blogs. As for the definition of what makes your life worth living, well mine is my family. Gwyn and I have been married for almost 61 years. We have 1 daughter and 2 sons (We lost our youngest son at the age of 35 to a brain tumor, he was married, but no children.)We have 4 grand children and seven great grandchildren. My wife and I are both 81. GOOD LIFE
Howard, Nobody knows the answer about life and the different paths we take in the jungle of life. You do what you like to do and enjoy every minute. I for one, like to lead rather than just sit and watch others do the job. I am much older than you Howard, and since I was an airforce man, I say that I am in the final approach to land. Every day is a new gift. I hope I did the best I could by having a family with grand children that love this country. Steve Acre, Canada
Wow! How do you respond to such a thoughtful blog. You absolutely led your life as you should have, or I don’t think you and Anne would be happy today. I am 84 and look back also but I can’t change any of it. I have found my total peace though, through knowing the Torah, knowing what God said and believing it. I do believe the entire Bible gives us the answers. I wish I could talk to you as in my opinion all the answers lie in the Book, not in religion. Shalom to you and Anne.
Thought provoking for sure. We all have been on roads less traveled and on super highways during our lives. We all see creation in many different ways. I for one, believe there is a power much higher than humanity, as we know it. I guess I live my life with one thing in mind. I would rather live my life believing there is a God, than to live it like there is no God, only to find out, there IS! If anyone has the final answers, please let all of us know!!
My sympathy in your cousin’s loss. Death of someone near always causes those of us over 60 to consider our own mortality and if our life’s journey has been a good one. My standard for that measure has to do with the teachings of the Bible, more specifically Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Have I pleased God more often in my choices than not pleased Him. I pray it has been that I pleased Him more, especially in helping others as Jesus would. That will be a good life.
My deepest condolences to you and family. I can sincerely sympathize with you after loosing my husband of over fifty-three wonderful years and both our sons, all due to cancer. My husband and I were a “team” like you and Anne. God Bless the both of you and your precious animals. And keep up the wonderful & educational editorials, as I look forward to them and enjoy reading the comments also, like we are one big family!
Thank you for sharing your questions and struggle. The book “what on earth am I here for? by Rick Warren has some great perspectives. Religion is the human attempt to interpret and predict the divine. But the Bible is God’s Word and message for us humans. It is the only vehicle in God’s creation to give us His insight and purpose for us. Blessings on your search!
Bill Batterman, Sun Prairie, Wisconsin – United States
Howard, I strongly believe that God has shown me the path that I am on and knew before I did that Mike would be my husband and we would have 3 very different sons who would go on to marriage and give me 4 incredible grandkids. I still believe God shows me the path I should be on. God Bless you! You are a good man.
Howard, I will be 87 on 9/4/2017 and the thing that makes me feel like living is, I have been graced by God with eternal fellowship with Him, at the same time, realizing that my life has been a positive impact on many. You say that you are not religious but it is never too late to repent of whatever needs to be removed and to accept Jesus Christ of Nazareth as your Lord and Savior. The ball is in your court.
I have tried to post this on Facebook 5 times today and each time I received the massage that they could not find the URL I provided. I hope no one else has had this problem.
I rode to the Thousand Islands to meet you just before your cousin died . We discussed Life in general and our attitudes to what is going on all around us. Some of your readers know that I give Holocaust Presentations in which I state that I was to be murdered because my life “was not worth living” due to nazi ideology. I KNOW that my life is worth living and like you I love my LIFE & MY FAMILY. My revenge to the hate is that I became a grand-father. You & the Pledge Riders are also a part of it
Thank you for that great blog, Howard. It brought tears and remembrances of losing my parents and my younger sister to leukemia. The death of those close does make us re evaluate OUR OWN LIVES. You are a great person and it is a privilege to know you. Praying for you and Anne.
No matter what your religion or not, when you die it will be the correct one.
Yes Howard, that is a good question. I always ask myself as well, “what am I doing and am I headed in the right direction?” At the end of the day, I usually answer yes. Losing my husband to cancer when I turned 49, I refocused my priorities and try to make every day count. Life is short and time seems to be flying by quickly!
So sorry for your loss my heart goes out to you an Ann. Keep up the good work, I do enjoy reading every article you write. Thanks for being you!
Howard, I’m sorry for your loss. I think most of us stop and reflect on life when we lose someone we love. I do know that you are striving to make this world a better place and you fight for what’s right. “One Can NEVER Be Totally Satisfied With The Journey Of Our Life . . . Because there’s always so much more to do, and NEVER enough Time to get it all Done.” Amen to that.
My sincerest condolences Howard. In the past 4 years I lost my soul-mate wife of 40 years and three very good friends all to that dreaded disease. When I look back I can’t help but wonder why am i still here and they’re all gone?
Yes, Those left behind suffer the most, So sorry you lost a loved one. Ha .your life,, I say you both lived it to the fullest.
Having more money is not living, its doing and loving and being poor and, all the other happiness that life gives us.
At 81 I still go work some , that means a paycheck, keeps me off the couch, being useful and not ask for handouts. Soc. Sec. is not enough, look forward to your inspiring letters.
I’m really saddened by your loss…..my prayers & thoughts go out to both you, Howard, and Anne, as well! I’m going to try & post this on FB, afterwards!! I wasn’t able to post yesterday’s blog, either, which gave me msg., “URL unknown, or not recognized”!!! So, I just hope FB doesn’t have you blocked, or some other NASTY MEDIA THING; I wouldn’t put anything past those CREEPS!!!! May G_d bless you, Howard, and Anne, as well.
Howard, it seems to me that you have lived/are living a life well lived. Anyone who is honest and true to themselves and others is fulfilling this mandate.
Thank you. We make choices. I am thankful for the ones you made. You also helped me reinforce mine.
Comments are closed.