I was at St. Joes Hospital last night (which I might add is a magnificent building).
A good friend of mines Dad was in the hospital so I went to support and visit.
I didn’t go in the room because I didn’t know the Dad and he was just getting ready for bed.

I was captivated by the scenery in the halls. There were many extravagant paintings, photos and emblems all paying respects to past patients and thanking the caretakers for their service.

As I browsed the hall, a thin, slow paced man emerged from his room and told the nurses he was stretching his back. He wondered aimlessly in the halls until the nurses told him he needed to head to bed.

As he walked by me he asked me if I smoked, to which I replied no. Growing up in bars, I knew what “do you smoke” was referring to. He was really saying “I would love to go for a smoke, do you want to join me?”

The nurses started to escort him back to his quarters when I piped up “I would sure love to get some air, I don’t suppose you want to join me?” The nurses, surprised, were thankful and handed me his smokes. They handed me a badge to get back in and told me some “policies” in regards to patients. We quickly introduced ourselves and I pushed Earl in the wheel chair for some fresh air.

As he lit his smoke, he told me he was dieing of throat cancer. As he took his first haul and offered me a drag to which I replied “no thanks, I hear those things can kill ya!” He laughed.

It’s an interesting discussion to have when the other person conversing is informing you of his last months. I didn’t beat around the bush with him and we talked openly about ideas for the last 5 months of his life.

At the end of this summer, Earl will be gone; his room will become someone else’s, A new story will be told, another story will come to a close. The hall will have a new donation added to the walls.

I am sure as this conversation comes up in the future with friends, family and colleges, they will say “you did a nice deed Ron I am sure Earl is thankful.” But to be honest, I am the one who is thankful. I was thankful to have met Earl. For the few minutes we spent, he opened up to me about his life and he was honest. He is starring death right in the face and he isn’t scared (at least that’s the impression I felt). His entire life is coming to a close. All he has left is a failing body and a soul. He could have lied to me and made himself feel a little better. But he didn’t. I really appreciated his honesty. He showed me a lot.

Cheers Earl,