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2012-04-19 digital edition

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2012-04-19 / Church

THEY SAID IT

(Life Lessons from Hospice Patients)

I Should’ve Been Doing That All Along

Marlene was in her early nineties. Until a month ago, she’d been incredibly healthy, living alone and tending her garden every day. A stroke had changed all that.

Fortunately, Marlene had a close, very supportive family. Even though she had to be moved to a nursing home, she had family with her every waking hour of the day. Affectionately known as “Grans,” she did her best to play the hostess in her small room.

One day when I visited, Marlene was in a contemplative mood. She began telling me the hardships and disappointments in her life. She felt incredibly guilty. I was surprised, for she appeared to be a happy, content lady.

“I think I’m preparing to die,” she said. “I should’ve been doing that all along.”

We’re going along just fine, and we get surprised. An unforeseen difficulty. A sudden change. A bend in the road. It’s hard to prepare for such things.

We all know we’re going to die. Why don’t we prepare for it?

A college professor of mine said, “We’re a death-defying culture. We think and act like we’re not going to die.” Granted, it’s a pretty unpleasant thought for most of us, and not a topic of common conversation. Until someone dies. Suddenly, we’re reminded of our mortality.

Yet soon we are back in our routine, never managing to prepare for the one thing we know is going to happen.

“I should’ve been doing that all along.”

Us too, Marlene. Us too.

Gary Roe is the Chaplain of Southern Care Hospice and is interim Minister at First Baptist Church in Lexington

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