Last Friday Don took a taxi to the emergency room. He wasn’t feeling right. After he was released several hours later, he called his wife, Miriam, to let her know he would not be spending the night at the hospital. This was a good thing, as Don was her caregiver. Time away from her would pose a problem. There was no answer. Maybe she was talking to the neighbor. In their 90’s, Don and Miriam cherished their independence. Suggestions of moving to an assisted living facility were rejected.

After the taxi driver was paid, Don went through the house, calling out for his wife of sixty eight years. Maybe she was taking a nap. He found her in the Florida room, lying on the floor. It appeared that she had been reaching for her blood pressure medicine. She was gone.

We had talked about this, he related. At our age, we knew this was coming. I’m relieved that she didn’t have to endure any further pain. The melanoma had spread and the end wasn’t looking pretty.

Although he was affected by this loss, Don had retained a measure of composure and dignity. He was even able to smile.

Don shared with me that, for him, the secret to life is to smile and to allow humor to smooth out the rough patches that life presents. Far from a rigid dogma, he lives this philosophy every day. He is living proof that this approach to life works.

by Patrick Gaffney

by Patrick Gaffney