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The Final Lesson

Friday, June 19, 2009
My dad relayed to me a piece of wisdom imparted to him by a friend: "The final lesson our parents teach us is how to die."

I'm currently in Reston, VA visiting my grandmother as she undergoes treatment for cancer. What started as breast cancer (apparently the tumor formed just after her last mammogram) is now Stage IV cancer, meaning it's spread throughout most of her body.

She's been undergoing both radiation treatment and chemotherapy, and when I decided to come out here again she'd been hospitalized. I'm happy to say that - at this point - she's home and bustling around like I would expect, but that's the current news. She resumes chemotherapy soon (she stopped because it was killing her faster than cancer) and only after that treatment is over will we have a clear idea of what the future holds; our best guess now is "6 months to 16 years".

So my dad is here helping his mother and sister prepare the financials and paperwork so that - should things take a turn for the worse - the necessary forms will still be able to be filled out and such. Affairs, as they say, are being put in order. I'm here, well... for comedic relief, if nothing else. I am, of course, helping in any way possible, but more I'm just happy to have this time with my relatives.

Several months ago I wrote about the time with my other grandmother (on my mother's side) and her ongoing battle with Alzheimer's disease. It's very sad to see that generation of my family move to the final stage of life; it's not something I really know how to deal with as death hasn't yet been something that dramatically touched my life.


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