As our friendship grew, our conversations took on a personal nature, and we began to delve into each other's lives. It was not long after that when Steve informed me that he had Alzheimer’s disease. At the time he was forty-nine; he had been diagnosed with the disease five years earlier at the age of forty-four. To say I was shocked would be an understatement. People that young were not supposed to have Alzheimer’s, or so I believed. I was wrong!
My first reaction to the original news of his prognosis was anger; in truth, I am still angry today. This is a vital man, a former college athlete, a loving husband and father. How could this happen? How is it fair that such a good man must suffer in this way? Where is the justice in this situation?
Slowly my anger has faded; yes, it still flairs up occasionally, but for the most part it has been replaced by gratitude, and Steve is the reason for that transformation. Throughout it all Steve has lived his life with dignity and a huge portion of humor. He smiles readily, is always available to help others, and shows no signs of self-pity or regret. Not once, during our hundreds of conversations, have I heard Steve say how unfair it all is; not once have I heard him utter an angry word.
No, he does not expect a miracle cure for this debilitating disease; he does not hold out false hope that somehow, against all odds, remission will occur. Steve is a realist and he is fully aware that his functional days are numbered and coming to an end, but if you were to meet him, and ask him how he is doing, he would utter three profound words…..life is good!
You see, for Steve, life is indeed good! He is grateful for the life he has been given. He is grateful that he has been given this opportunity to be the best husband and father he can be in the time remaining. He is grateful that he has a chance to right any past wrongs, and to do as much good as possible in the next few years.
How much longer do any of us have? The only difference between Steve and the rest of us is that Steve has a pretty good idea regarding the answer to that question, while we can only hope we have one more day to get it right!
Whatever time I have left on this planet, I am going to spend it remembering three little words…..
Life is good! - Written by B. Holland