A Disease Named After Him
I’m finding myself surrounded by sadness recently. Profound sadness.
When time is running out, we often wish we had done things differently. Case in point is a friend of mine whom I’ve often wanted to know better, but really never took the time to do so.
How many times have you said to someone, “Over the holidays, let’s get together for dinner with the wives; it’s long over-due,” yet never do it, nor do you really have the intention of doing it.
My friend has Stage IV pancreatic cancer, and the future is bleak. We have been getting together more frequently for coffee and encouragement these days. He’s a really great guy, and I missed out on having a great friend instead of just an acquaintance.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not giving up on him, but I just regret what I didn’t do.
A delightful neighbor of ours, whom my wife had our family adopt as kind of an aunt/grandmother, just announced that she had four to six weeks to live due to her violent cancer returning in a “pissed-off” kind of state.
We love our neighbor and she loves us. We don’t hesitate to tell her that and vice-versa.
Last year, when a toilet valve broke and flooded her entire house, she knew whom to call – Ruth (and Jeff). I went over to her house, which was a complete disaster, and found the source of the devastation. With water pouring through light fixtures and drywall literally flaking off the walls in front of our eyes, she was devastated (and so was her house).
I cleared off a spot at her cluttered (and wet) kitchen table for the two of us, and I said, “Dianne, let’s just sit down for a minute and put this in perspective.”
I said, “We can cry or laugh; it’s up to us.”
The two of us just sat there and laughed at what should have been a nightmare.
I said, “Dianne, let’s focus on what will come out of this. A new kitchen, new carpet, and a transformed home.”
Why, after all that, does she have to continue to suffer? I don’t have an answer.
Just a couple of weeks ago, my 16-year-old son Jonathan chose to memorize the famous July 4, 1939, speech by Lou Gehrig at Yankee Stadium. Almost everyone knows the story of how a Hall of Fame-bound baseball player with gifted physical abilities, incredible charm, and decency that is missing from most of today’s professional athletes, was given the gift of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
ALS is a deadly disease that knows no cure and destroys the very core of a person, except Lou Gehrig. In his famous speech, Gehrig would not relent to the negativity of the disease. He focused on what was good and right in his life and his career. Everything from a great manager to an awesome mother-in-law who would side with him even in a fight with her own daughter.
Gehrig was a class act and understood that this deadly disease would be a way to dignify his life and even set him apart beyond what his physical talents alone would have done. What distinguished Gehrig was not his baseball skills; it was his willingness to be used in a way different from the way the world wanted to use him.
Most people want something good named after them. How fitting that a horrible and deadly and vicious disease be nicknamed Lou Gehrig’s disease. That’s a testimony to seeing good in horrible and not in wishing away all that was and is good in your life.
Here’s to all of us rethinking our businesses, our lives, our situations. Here’s to us redefining good and evil and how we are to react to those influences in our lives.
Contact Jeff Pinyot, President of ECO Parking Lights/ECO Lighting Solutions, at Jspinyot@ecoparkinglights.com.