Upside down

Most of my memories of Charles are upside down. When I was a kid, that's how he carried me around--on his back, giggling; under his arm, waving at his knees; or thrown over his shoulder, poking at his armpit. I remember him as big, gentle, and quiet, with his mouth where his eyes should've been.

Charles was diagnosed with cancer around two years ago. With the support and love of his wife, Sara, he fought it hard. Every time I called, he was in another city, at another hospital, investigating another experimental treatment. But the kind of cancer he had wasn't an easy one to fight, much less to win against.

I had always loved the way Charles' big beard muffled his voice a little, making something gentle even gentler. When I last saw him about a year and a half ago, that hadn't changed. It still hadn't changed when I talked to him on the phone last week, although then, his voice was muted as much by fatigue as by his beard. He'd just entered hospice.

I guess that if you've got to die too soon, hospice is not a bad way to go. But Charles is still dying too soon, and although I'm glad he's comfortable, nothing really makes this OK with me.

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I'll be thinking of you, sweetie.

I guess that if you've got to die too soon, hospice is not a bad way to go. But Charles is still dying too soon, and although I'm glad he's comfortable, nothing really makes this OK with me

Cancer is a sad disease. And yet I have seen the best of the human spirit be shown because of it sometimes. Maybe it is because when you get a chance to see the end coming you can get a perspective on life that the rest of us can't. Sorry for you loss!
Dave Briggs :~)

This battle, taken on by both Charles and Sara is a formidable and an extensive one. Still, at this painful time, their consideration to others displays generosity at its most purified form: Meticulously, with attention to all details, Sara and Charles are actively planning donation of tissue for research in order to help in better understanding of this disease, and for treatment to others who would be thrown into this whirlwind situation.
Determination to do their best, quiet strength, gentleness, and deep knowledge and understanding of their circumstances are just a few ways this couple's behaviour is a model to be followed.

By Anonymous (not verified) on 24 Jan 2008 #permalink

Thank you for sharing about Charles. It touched a spot in my heart. I have a cousin who is also dying of cancer, and she is a single mother with a 5 year old, and only 32 years old...way to young to be facing something like this. It is truly amazing, isn't it, how some people will not let themselves get down, even facing almost unsurmountable odds like this. Thank you, again.

Thanks for your words and thoughts. Too soon, indeed. Charlie was my best friend from the time I was a Junior at Tech, through graduate school, and until long after I finally graduated and moved to California. He is godfather to one of my sons, and was to be best man at my wedding, but something came up and he couldn't make the trip. We worked together on homework problems in graduate courses in math and physics. He ran lines with me when I took a role in a play at DramaTech, and together we helped build sets. The cast parties are still a bit of a blur, though. He helped me tape a musical love letter to my girlfriend (now wife). He drove me to pick up my first new car from the dealer. Together we discovered the joys of black & white photography using the darkroom in the physics building. When he would pace down the hall outside my office, I recognized his step and the way his toes cracked as he walked, and I would often shout out greetings to him through my closed door. He would then poke his sleepy-eyed, curly-haired, mustachioed head in to say hi, and maybe join me for some coffee. I don't think he ever figured out how I knew it was him. Always gentle; always quiet; always thoughtful. He almost never got mad. He had been working on his PhD in theoretical physics for a year and a half when he found an obscure paper that solved the problem he had been working on, but did it in very general terms. Back to square one, he took it in stride, found another problem, and worked to its completion. So much of my life in the 1970's had Charlie in it. I loved him as much as I've loved anyone. Though I've scarcely seen him in 25 years, I knew he was around; just an e-mail or a phone call away. But no more. Now I am left only with my joyful memories and my tears. Go with God, my dear friend.


By Jim Harriss (not verified) on 28 Jan 2008 #permalink

As someone who works in hospice, I see patient after patient die. I feel so blessed to read the personal story of your friend. Reminds me of what I'm called to do.


By Anonymous (not verified) on 07 Feb 2008 #permalink

Signout reader named Benjamin Langer, who himself has a very nice critical piece on intelligent design in the current edition of SCQ.

I think people differ greatly on this issue. For example, if it were completely unidentifiable as my own, I would have no problem with a picture of my naked ass being posted on the Internet. Others would be absolutely horrified by the prospect.