Tuesday, June 17, 2008
Eight years ago.
In October of 1999 my father went to the doctor with a virus. I didn't even think anything of it. I mean, this was the man that I knew could chew up barbwire and spit out BB's. I knew the doctor would identify some simple virus, give him some medicine and a week later he would be mowing his grass. But it wasn't to be.
I was working in Raleigh selling real estate. Things were going great. I was finishing up the day, changed into my gym clothes and left my office. I was on the 440 beltline in Raleigh and I called home just to see what the doctor said. My mother told me two things that day that I can remember in my mind like it was 5 minutes ago. She said my father had cancer. Then she said that it was in his liver and if it was the particular strand they thought it was, he would not suffer. That's because he would not live long.
My father was further diagnosed and he went into UNC-Chapel Hill for a surgery with the optimism they could remove the cancer. But no, the cancer was embedded in the middle of his liver and was inoperable. They told us that if they had tried to remove it, he would have bled to death. My family was devastated. Hell, I fainted.....I have never fainted before or since. My mother was in shambles. But the doctor told us that he had been heavily sedated, so we could gather our thoughts for the next morning. He was awake in an hour. Nobody was in an emotional state to go in and talk to him. So, I did. He didn't say hardly anything. He had complications, felt terrible, and several aggravating things happened the next several days. Nine days later, we brought him home.
Deddy told me that for the first 3 days out of surgery, he really felt as if Satan himself was trying to distort his mind. But he made his mind up that he was going to accept his fate, fight all he could, and live the best life he could with the time he had left. And that's exactly what he did.
We went to Johns Hopkins in Baltimore and he was accepted into an experimental program with a medicine that was only a number to us. It didn't save his life, but I truly believe it probably quadrupled the time he had left. The doctors and staff were wonderful and I will forever be grateful to them.
We could see his gradual decline even though he did great, given the circumstances. He actually worked until May of 2000, driving himself around. After that, one of us always drove him. Even though the situation was difficult, we still had some great quality times with deddy. The medicines he took the last several months were really strong. Morphine was one of the main medicines he took. On a few occasions, it would affect his mind just a little. For instance, he asked me questions several different times in which I simply answered him, but he thought I was being a smart ass. He would quickly reply, "Don't you answer me like that, I might be sick, but I can still kick your ass!". I quickly assured him that I knew he could, but I was really only answering his question and was not being a smart-ass. He would be content with that explanation and just reply "alright then".
My best friend, Jason McPherson, had planned a trip with his father and his brother. They had planned that trip for some time and were going to travel across the country. The last time we went to Johns Hopkins, they gave us some very grim news. Without a divine intervention, he would not be here much longer. My father was not in the room with us when they told us that and I was glad. He already knew, he didn't have to hear it. I was torn as to whether or not I should tell Jason this news. I didn't want to ruin his trip, but I didn't want him to not be here when my father died and be upset with me for not telling him. So, I decided I had to tell him and encourage him to not change his plans. So, one afternoon I rode over to his house and let him know just how grim the situation was. I remember sitting on his front porch and both of us crying like we were kids. He said there was no way he could go on the trip, and they didn't.
That same buddy got married last Saturday. I am one of the significant reasons they got together. Friday night, we went out and had a few drinks and just sat around and talked. When nobody was really paying attention, he handed me a dollar. He told me that he would tell me about the dollar the next day. Sure enough, the next day as I was getting ready, he came into the room. He said that he had gotten that dollar with the "Where's George" stamp on it a short time before they were to take their trip, eight years ago. You can track the dollar online to see where it goes all over the world. He had planned on spending the dollar when he went with his father and brother on their trip. However, he said after the afternoon that I told him deddy's circumstances were grim, he could not bring himself to spend it. He kept that dollar in his wallet and I know every time he opened it, he thought about my father. He actually told me that in some strange way, he thought it brought him luck. He said several times in his life since then, when certain things went his way, he would look in his wallet and that dollar would be staring at him and he thought of my father.
My brother Travis and I did the same thing on Father's Day we have done since our father died. We go play golf together that morning. I thought about that dollar about as much as I thought about my father. In a world where everyone wants as many dollars as they can accumulate, I have one that means more than all of the others. I have one that is lucky for some reason. I have one that Jason McPherson gave me as a token of his friendship and as an honor to my father. I'm not writing this story to make you feel sympathy or sorrow, nor do I want the story to be about me. I'm writing this story for people to know what a great guy Jason is. That's why I want you to send it to as many people as you can and ask them to do the same. For some reason he folded that dollar up and put it in a safe place within his wallet until he gave it to me. A dollar that I will keep and guard with my life.
A dollar that Jason put in his wallet.....eight years ago.