Excuses are like ass holes; everyone has one. I’ve always liked that little saying, basically because it sums up the human condition in a mere eight words. Anyway, if you come across someone who claims they don’t have one or the other, it’s a safe bet that they are full of…it. I was tempted to put a couple more letters in front of the last word of that sentence but, as usual, I decided to be tastefully discreet instead.
Believe it or not, this fairly crude introduction was brought on by the fact that the nine month anniversary of my wife’s death has just passed and I’ve been thinking a great deal about some of the gifts she left behind and about how easy it seems to be for many people to forget the lessons she tried to help everyone she knew learn. One lesson was not to feel sorry for ourselves and another was to be tolerant of other people’s shortcomings. I think I’m doing okay with the first one, but I’m struggling to be understanding with people who have chosen to see themselves as victims.
Yeah, despite the opening line, I’m afraid this is going to be a bit of a heavy one.
For those of you who are not familiar with the major issues that have affected my life during the past year and a half I should mention that Lesley went into a coma at the end of April 2009 and barely survived the emergency surgery that was required to remove most of the brain tumour that led to that condition. She slowly recovered for four months and then started to get steadily weaker for the next four as the cancer grew back until she passed away on the 3rd day of this year.
It sounds terribly sad and tragic, but surprisingly that is not the way I see it – mainly because that is not the way Lesley saw it herself. You see, Les just didn’t seem to feel she was getting a raw deal – it was as if she saw what was coming next when she was close to death after the surgery and she knew everything was going to be okay – and she did everything she could to make the people who cared about her comfortable with her condition.
She also hung around until our youngest daughter accepted that the mother she’d grown up with was never going to come back and that Les was ready to move on, and she also put up with just enough physical pain during the last four weeks of her life so that I was actually relieved when it came to an end.
So why have I decided to go over this stuff again?
Well, I believe Les did an awful lot of good during the last months of her life and that she was basically a happy woman…and that those two things are not unrelated. She accepted what she had no control over and just got on with living and laughing and loving. The whole thing was exhausting and painful for our family, but it was also very, very beautiful; and looking around today at the selfish attitudes that get so many people down, I just felt like going back there for one column. It just came out.
That’s my excuse.