Writer bids farewell in final column

Many folks at my age (83 years) find it advisable to have regular contact with their family doctor. Various aches and pains often lead to one prescription or another. Such is the case with me. I have to admit I dislike having to make appointments and then being scheduled for various tests most of whose names I cannot even pronounce.

Then too, if the appointment is scheduled late in the day, a person encounters prolonged wait times because of unscheduled overruns or unforeseen emergencies or whatever. The whole thing becomes a pain in the lower extremities, if you get my meaning.

Such was the case with me. I was poked and prodded and looked at with the most serious of expressions. The situation was explained to me in terms as foreign as those test names. I had to ask for an explanation of the explanation. When the situation was finally reduced to terms I could understand (just barely) I got the impression that what the doctor was telling me was not to be thinking of buying any green bananas. It took a little bit for this to sink in but by then even I got the drift of the conversation.

This was serious stuff, “Dead serious” if you will permit the pun. Green bananas may be a little too severe but a Christmas shopping list was probably not going to be one of my problems this year. We were talking about cancer.

There were options, of course. There almost always are options. I have visited friends at the Jacobetti Home for Veterans who were undergoing various treatments. The treatments seemed to be in keeping with the medical profession’s dedication to preserve life no matter what the consequences. Many of those Jacobetti patients didn’t know if it was daylight or dark, didn’t recognize me nor anyone else and were more vegetable than people. I didn’t want any of that.

I believe I’ve had a good life. Like the rest of you, I’ve made mistakes, fallen on my face now and again but, overall, it’s been good. I feel that I’ve gotten to do things most people only dream of. My children and step-children are doing well and I’m proud of them. I have a wife who loves me (and I her).

My mother taught me at an early age the virtues and rewards of caring and kindness. The world truly is a beautiful place as are its people, even if you have to look pretty deep sometimes to see that. I have enjoyed my life here and, while I’m not in a hurry to leave, the options of cancer treatment, especially in its more advanced stages, are not attractive.

Here comes a problem: Doctors don’t seem inclined to consider my problems in their option. It would seem too that something less that 10 percent of patients are willing to “go gentle into that good night,” who, in fact, prefer not to “rage, rage against the fading of the light.” Major surgical options accompanied by radiation treatments and chemotherapy and their most undesirable side effects do not present a desirable option, at least not to me.

Then, too,while there is pleasure in the giving of gifts those interminable Christmas shopping, those lists are another of the holiday seasons less desirable features. Whatever the reasons, I have made my choice. The end is near!

Not the least of my life’s recent pleasures are the experience of meeting those of you who read some of my writing, enjoyed them and have gone so far as to stop me on the street or in a restaurant or wherever to tell me you enjoyed a particular article I had written. Thank you! You’ve made my day. So, having reached the end of this journey, I’m leaving with a wish for you for happy days, fare thee well and may God bless.

Editors note: Ben Mukkala is an award-winning northern Michigan author whose several books on life and living are available in printed and e-book form. Books are available in bookstores and gift shops or through his website, www.benmukkala.com.