What would you do if, just maybe, you only had a week to live? It’s an interesting question to be sure, but I’ve faced it before. In 1999 I had open heart surgery. It was scary. Hearts were never intended to be cut opened and operated on. Obviously I survived. The operation fixed the immediate problem but not the underlying problem. Now, having entered heart failure for a second time, I’m faced with a repeat operation. By the time you read this blog, I will either have survived, or not. So what does one do during what could be his last week of life?
I have given the question a lot of thought, beginning with the first operation 16 years ago. That’s when I realized my planning needed to start then, not in the last week. So I took care of all the long-range stuff—wills, powers of attorney, medical survival forms, organ donations, and the like. I also ensured my spouse had a home and enough money to last her lifetime if I passed prematurely…and no bills of any kind. That planning meant my last week is open for whatever I want to do with it.
So, here it is. I am eating at great restaurants, drinking one or two drinks a day, playing board and card games with friends, and spending time talking with my wife and sister-in-law. I’ve caught up on e-mails to friends and written a letter to thank my wife for the 23 wonderful years we’ve had together—a letter she will only receive if the operation fails. I also refuse to sweat this last week. No yard work. No chores of any kind; just relaxation. I’ve read a couple of novels I have had on my Kindle for about a year, and watched a number of movies I wanted to see when they first came out, but did not take the time to do so.
I am not making any attempt to “resolve” issues with anyone who has been mean or inappropriate to my wife and me. I don’t need that stress. I have lived well without mean people in my life, and I certainly don’t want to invite any into my life now. If I make it through the operation, why would I want such people back in my life anyway? I know, I know, there’s the concept of forgiveness an all that, but I’ve come to believe forgiveness only benefits the one doing the forgiving…and only then if an unresolved issue is eating away at his core. I’m passed all that. I realize people are what they are and they won’t change unless they want to. In my opinion, life is best lived free of anyone who brings chaos, negativity, or meanness into it. I am at peace with this. I’ve had almost 72 great years of mostly good living by simply walking away from offensive people. There are lots of people who accept you without having to fight for those who don’t.
First, you don’t have to wait until the last week. In my case, I’m strong enough to do almost anything I want now, but that might not be the case for others. Therefore, I suggest young people work like crazy, save like there’s no tomorrow, and quit working as soon as they are sure they have enough for the future. Three years after my last heart operation, I retired for the last time. I’ve had 13 years of carefree living since that time. The only reason for working hard is to quit work as soon as possible.
Second, based on my observations, the best way to succeed in life is to do so in total love and commitment. This is important. When two people work together toward a common goal, and both are fully involved, they can move mountains. Only rarely can one member of a team reach a comfortable end game alone. Both must be fully committed. Both must work like the devil himself is riding their back. Time and again I have seen young and older people who are totally in love work toward and achieve a beautiful ending.
And that’s it, my secrets to a life in just a couple of sentences. I wish each and every one of you success in your life. I hope that all your dreams come true.
Thanks for reading,
James L. Hatch
By the way, if you leave a comment…and I respond…you’ll know I’m still kicking.