“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” (Ben Franklin)


Doctors are lousy at delivering bad news. In October of 1993, a urologist gave me this announcement, “The bad news is you have cancer, the good news is it’s young man’s cancer. “My immediate reaction was “Big deal, you don’t get old when you have cancer.” From there it got worse because I was asking questions he didn’t want to answer.  It was testicular cancer and surgery was required but he wanted to go ahead and start taking out lymph nodes as well to make sure it didn’t spread. What he didn’t know is that I had already researched this subject at length and I was quite willing to debate his reasoning. After many minutes of verbal sparring he relented and said, “You missed your calling.” I took that as a back-handed compliment. The surgery took place just 2 days later.  He wanted me to stay in the hospital but I walked out the same day. I never even went back to him for a follow-up visit.  A week later I was on a plane to Chicago for a trade show.

All of my post surgery treatment was done with the oncologist and it was the better part of a year before I was free to go.  Regular visits for CT Scans, X-Rays and blood work weren’t really bad but the sense of uncertainty that comes with hearing the word cancer is pretty devastating.  My children were too young to understand all of this so I kept my fears to myself for the most part. I dreaded the  thought of having to tell them goodbye. Lucky for me it never came to that but it still changed my life forever.

Up till that time I was a very driven businessman. Building a company was just about all I ever thought about. I had even persuaded myself that it was all part of God’s plan for me.  Somehow I rationalized that making money was the most important thing of all. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Almost dying changed me in ways I never could have imagined. I still worked just as hard but it wasn’t that much fun anymore. I kept looking for something more meaningful and significant to do with my life. Eventually it even became part of my decision to close the business. I just didn’t want to spend my whole life chasing the almighty dollar.

At this point I turned to my Father for advice. He and I have always had a very close relationship as we worked together for 20 years. He reaffirmed exactly what I was feeling and that it was okay to close the business. We made sure that everybody got paid and we never took bankruptcy. I can’t say I was relieved when it ended but at least I knew I had done all I could and I was at peace with the way it ended.  Through all of this hardship the thing that kept me going was my Dad and my son. The three of us just love to laugh with each other and it made it much easier to deal with the stress when I had those 2 to turn to every day. Since then, I have concentrated more on making a difference for others and looking for happiness in every day life.

Life is short and there are no guarantees of health or happiness.  Oddly enough, health and happiness seem to me to be inseparable. I firmly believe laughter is the best medicine of all and prayer is a close second, especially when you share them with others.  I feel sorry for anyone who goes through life with a big bank account but no real friends other than the ones he bought. Laughter and prayer don’t cost anything but they are worth more than gold.  I truly believe that sharing laughter with others will do more for their emotional well-being than any amount of money.

I’m very lucky to have an extended family that loves to laugh. The funny stories and jokes my Dad has told me will always be the most important inheritance I will have, when he’s gone.  His sense of humor touched everyone he came in contact with and it will be his legacy. He was never rich but he contributed more to the world through his kindness, generousity and fun loving nature than all the millionaires combined.  His motto is as simple as it gets, “Help others.”  I think Albert Schweitzer was talking about my Dad when he said,” One thing I know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who will have sought and found how to serve.”

©Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Guy R. Horst and grhgraph.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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