Saturday, July 16, 2005

Once we are born, only one thing is certain...

I mentioned before that I had gone to the hospital, and would need to go back on Friday, yesterday. I ducked out of work and went there by my appointment time (I was previously mistaken: They do have appointements!) only to...wait! I am not sure what the point of having an appointment is, but well...
In the waiting area in front of the urology department, I noticed a couple of gaijin, which I thought was unusual. One guy, who looked maybe in his 60's, sat at the back with a young caucasian woman. I recognised the guy, but couldn't place the face. The PA announcement asking him to go into the examination room was so garbled I couldn't hear the name, and in any case I had brought my PMP study book and was engrossed in the study of scheduling. He had been in the examination room for perhaps 5 minutes, when he came out and gestured for his daughter (that is my assumption, and I could certainly be wrong) to come join him. I didn't think much of it, but was quite sure that I had seen his face before.
Not long before I was called in, he came out with an older Japanese woman, which I guessed he must have gone in with. The daughter hadn't come out yet. I wasn't actually called into the examination room, but to a bench in front of the examination room where I had some more waiting to do. The woman who I had assumed was his daughter was sitting on the adjacent bench, her face somewhat red, as if she had been crying. She was speaking with an older Japanese woman.
"He is planning to start his book, you know. I don't know if that is the right thing right now...I have always been the one to push him, but..." the older woman said.
"I don't know either...I want to hear the prognosis first. I guess I am worried that his last bit of time is not spent in hospitals...there is a time when we probably just need to say that the quality of remaining time is more important than fighting it," said the younger woman.
"Well, yes, but let's wait to hear the prognosis," the older woman said.
"Yes. I know the doctors are good, and they want the best, but I also know that part of this culture is to fight until the end. I don't want that for him."

Some other things were said. I was not trying to eavesdrop, but was perhaps two feet from them, and so it was not possible not to hear what was said.
It turns out that I don't have liver cancer, or kidney cancer, or whatever it was that they were concerned about.
On the way back from lunch, I remembered where I had seen the man, which was not as I had first thought, at an ACCJ even or something, but on television, on a program called The Broadcaster, where he was a regular. He was a perfectly bilingual guy, with a very thoughtful and softspoken manner that I had always liked from what I saw on televsion. His name is George Fields, I learned once I had this hint, and looked it up on the internet.
I guess I tell this story because of the impression it left on me, which was of the oneness of humans, whether they have done great things, as I believe that this man had, in facing the hard things in life. And a real impression that he was doing so with a kind of grace, in the way that he treated his daughter's feelings and just in the way that he was with her, that I hope to be able to show in the face of death. And the oneness of those of us facing the prospect of losing a parent.
I hope that I have people around me who show as much respect and care as those around Mr. Fields seemed to, as well. He may be a big shot TV personality, but in the end, the thing that will matter to him is what he has shared with the people he loves. I think in his case, just looking at the brief encounter, that he will die a happy man, and that those that loved him will celebrate his life, while at the same time grieving.

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