Planning our life and end of life is a gift we can give our loved ones. Chuck did just that.
When we asked his wife Gayle if we could share his story this was her response:
No one would be happier to share his story than our Chuck. He wished to lead by example in all he did.
His heart and his thinking were always in the right place, thinking of others before himself.
Thanks to his life well lived, and his end well planned, we all continue to smile at the
memories and the love he gave us. If by sharing your story he inspires another to take life as it comes
and make those heart wrenching final choices with conviction and love for those one leaves behind,
he will have done what he wished, leaving his mark yet again! And Andrew, you and I will continue to share in the laughter and know he's smiling upon us. Go for it!
Chuck was my best friend. He was larger than life, humorously irreverent, loved a practical joke, was generous, loved to volunteer, and cared for others. I remember how it started. Stomach aches thought to be an ulcer, were eventually diagnosed as stage 4 stomach cancer. He was given a couple of years to live. The news was a devastating shock to all of us. Chuck had always seemed healthy.
He was only 65 years old.
I guess he went through the usual stages of grief...anger, depression, etc. Gayle accepted the fate with sadness but with a resolution to make the time left as good as possible. Together they travelled to Newfoundland then to the USA with their two Golden retrievers. Chuck gradually went from
the victim to the guy in charge. Friends rented a houseboat in the Thousand Islands, swapping stories
and reliving old times. Chuck spent quality time with his two loving sons as well.
He travelled together with Chris and Adam, helping them through the normal stages of anger and depression and imparting his words of wisdom on them as any good father might do.
Things gradually declined, but he was "the boss" of this whole thing. He put together a “death file” as he called it with all of the financial details and other personal information. He organized his funeral and showing his humorous side, called it the “wedding”; a time for celebration. Nothing was left unattended.
I gave the eulogy which was not easy, but with so much already organized, my job was simple.
He was an example to all of us to live life to its fullest, even in those final days. He maintained that we need to make the tasks of those we leave behind as easy as possible, so that they have time to reflect on the good memories rather than worry about the details of tidying up.
He wrote an amazing love letter to Gayle for her to open after the funeral. Most importantly,
he told her to get on with her life and that he would be upset if she didn’t accept a new
husband should that opportunity arise.
He was an inspiration to us all.
Yvonne Heath is a Canadian leader, Inspirational Speaker, Blogger, Television Host, Author and Creator of the #IJustShowedUp campaign.