The Alex and Ronni Show – 23 October 2019
INTERESTING STUFF – 26 October 2019

Some Random Thoughts on End of Life

Here are some thoughts related to my “predicament” that have been rolling around in my head. Obviously, they are not fully formed yet - you might even say they're half-baked. Maybe they ring a bell for some of you.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg notwithstanding, about 90 percent of people with pancreatic cancer don't live long. Rarely more than a year after diagnosis.

Even though I have passed that deadline (no pun intended) by 18 months, it is damned hard to imagine the future without me in it.

* * *

My interest in politics goes back at least to 4 November 1952, when I was 11 years old and allowed to stay up late that night to listen to the returns in the presidential election between Dwight D. Eisenhower and Adlai Stevenson.

Cancer hasn't changed that. Until July I told people I wanted to live long enough to read the Mueller report. Now I want to live long enough to see the results of the 2020 election.

If I do live to see that, I wonder if I will then find another event I want to live to see.

* * *

It appears to me that this is the most beautiful, most vibrant fall season I've ever experienced. Leaves gone crazy inventing new colors.

That may or may not be true but it seems so and I wonder if mother nature knows something I don't and produced this spectacular show just for me because it is my last fall.

* * *

How acutely sensitive I have grown over the past two-and-a-half years to the splendor of our home in the cosmos, our big blue marble of a planet.

The perfection of every flower. Of every animal. Of the sun. The rain. The wind. All know exactly who and what they are and I weep with joy at the magnificence of their life, along with despair for their future.

* * *

At first, you think you can go on living as you did before a doctor said the word cancer. Then you learn you cannot. You're different now and it is not the same thing as knowing everyone dies.

Although I should also say that on the occasions when the thought of dying becomes too heavy to bear, I remind myself of this: How hard could it be? Everyone who ever lived has died.

That feels more flip in print than I intend when I say it to myself.


I really admire that you keep moving the goal post further in front of you. I have known folks in similar straits who accepted their diagnosis as a fait accompli and essentially stopped living, but I haven't seen you do that and I love it. You are a hero and role model.

I loved your "random thoughts."

I know everyone has many different beliefs, but what gives me hope no matter the circumstances is Eternity in Heaven with God! No more pain, suffering or sorrow! And no more politics.

I don't know if you like poetry, but you might enjoy reading Mary Oliver, especially her later poems, where she sometimes looks at nature and at death.

"it is damned hard to imagine the future without me"

This is the line we all can relate to and even more so when we know it is possible we might be leaving sooner than we want.

Just so you know, we can't imagine a future without you in it, either.

Take care

There's nothing flip about your words... you're a thoughtful, intelligent woman who's been put in the position of not getting to take things for granted anymore. You can't help but ponder on the big picture.

These last couple weeks (as I've discovered your blog & have read your archived material & the wonderful series of your mother's final days)... I hope very much you get to see that 2020 election & more.

I'm not a religious man, but you're certainly in my very best thoughts Ronni.

I suspect that, depending on the outcome of the 2020 election, many of us will set our sights on another, more distant, spot. Whatever the outcome, many will still be angry and apprehensive about what comes next. Knowing this, I too take solace in the beauty of nature as it goes through its cycles, with flowers continuing to bloom in their time and monarchs and hummingbirds returning to my yard. It may have to be enough.

However, as much solace as I find in nature, I'm frightened. I have begun posting on my FB page each individual human right, one a day until all 30 have been posted as identified in the Declaration of Human Rights adopted in 1948 by the United Nations. I feel they are threatened. and many may be under attack, since the announcement of the convening, by this administration, of a committee to review and probably revise (eliminate?) them. Every person on that committee is on record as being, in some way, opposed to rights that have been gained, in recent decades, pertaining to gender identification, along with reproductive rights. I'm trying to remain hopeful that this committee and its focus, along with other hostile attacks on human rights, will disappear with the next administration. If not, I fear that we have only begun to see how truly ugly things can get.

I'm glad the fall colors are putting on a show for you. They are beginning to here in the Midwest as well. As for the last lines of your post, I found your words more philosophical than flip -- The Circle of Life.

As a pancreatic cancer...still a survivor, I can identify with the things you wrote today....I'm still living my life but cancer has cast a different light on everything.

So you are thoughtful and humorous as always...and I'm so glad you continue to be here on my laptop (though blogger genius has forgotten to give me your blogs for the last few weeks, I can go searching and find you posting still!) Life is worth while, just as each of us has a unique view on the world...and I'm partial to those of the bloggers who share thoughts and photos who I've befriended. The presence of those who have died is also something I feel at this season of Hallow-een...and they are still loved and remembered. Keep on doing whatever has meaning to you now and tomorrow.

I tried to figure out something I could do to get away from just growing older and listening to the news. Appreciating nature is one powerful way to do that. Another one I'm trying is tutoring reading to first graders at a local school. It's wonderfully energizing to see how difficult it is for them to sit still.

I too love your “random thoughts.” I like that they are not fully formed but are in the spirit of inquiry. Perhaps this is the ultimate wisdom - to live in that inquiring, wondering mind, rather than our all too human need to find answers. Poets Denise Levertov and Mary Oliver speak from this perspective. I find that they too inspire me to look with new eyes, as you do in prose.

Thank you so much for your written thoughts. I just read recently about an actual neurological reason why we have trouble imagining our death personally, i.e. actually going to happen to me. I also remember reading in Beatrice Potter's home a note describing how she is trying to memorize every beautiful thing in nature so she can re-enjoy it in her mind when she can no longer be outside. As a photographer, I am glad to have many pictures of beauties I can't see now.

My father had great advice as he aged, he died at 84.

"Always have something to look forward to" and I clutch that to my heart as I face my own challenges.

Another thought was that the recent book "Invisible Women" notes that all research on all diseases has been conducted on male bodies. Far, far different for women. Much like seat belts designed only for males, and piano keyboards, etc.

Women may live longer with cancer. I know my own darling mother did with malignant melanoma and beat all stats by 4 years.

I was very moved by your post. I sensed the underlying emotion.


Leaving a Legacy, your words each day help others to make their journey, keep them coming...

As an aging, but still active, hospital chaplain, I have been with many people facing death, especially during the AIDS epidemic. Your spirit reflects what I have observed: those who can talk openly about the end of their life, and envision the best possible death for themselves, die better. More peacefully. Less struggle. As a consequence, they leave a strong legacy for others. Which your words, and your life, do also.

I hope you continue to share your journey, and I hope it lasts long, and ends well.

Love and appreciation to you. Trudy James

Your words are both humorous and thoughtful and your attitude is great. It is good to set goals and then keep moving them forward.

Wisewebwoman, above, tells us that according to a book she read, "all research on all diseases has been conducted on male bodies" which just is not so. For many decades women were underrepresented in clinical trials - by a lot - especially those of childbearing age after the thalidomide debacle, among other considerations.

However, women's groups lobbied hard for inclusion of women and investigators are now required to include an 'appropriate' number of women in their study populations. Who knows what "appropriate" means but women are included nowadays.

I "Move the goal posts" also.
Eleven years now since a serious heart attack.
Three years since a medium size stroke and several years since diagnosed with congestive heart failure.

I only think of these at bedtime because all were night time occurrences. Then I pull myself together and switch on my iPad for the current audiobook I am listening to.

As I am 82 I definitely think of all my days as a gift now--I've had my fair share. I have increased my appreciation of nature. Our big garden maples are incredible this year which usn't often the case here in northern Delaware--more usually rain and more rain in the Fall.

I must, must see the next election. Whether it leads to relief or horror!

Keep talking to us Ronni we love you so much.

Not only today, but many days in the past 13 or so years, your blog reassures me that I am not alone in my thoughts....thank you


Your post really spoke to me this morning. I have had COPD for several years and last month heart failure was unsurprisingly added to the mix. I went home stunned. Yet I'm still on my feet if you don't count all the extra time I sleep :-). I too want to see the next election. Probably overly optimistic, I want to see my 13 year-old grandgirl graduate from college.

More immediate I want my son to take me fishing on the Columbia once more before fall is gone. And a spectacular fall it is here in Eastern Washington as well Ronni. I've never seen one like here before. Looking east at Sunset the whole of our small city is blazing with color.

I woke this morning from a dream that I had parked my car and was walking across a long concrete bridge to look at a frozen river dotted with boulders. A man had stopped and he chatted with me. He had a van and he opened the back doors and there were several smiling people sitting in it. It was a "commuter van." He said I could come along if I liked and it dawned on me I was looking at the river Styx. I told him "no thank you" and returned back to my car to go home. Even my dreams are telling me I'm not ready to go.

I want to see the results from the 2020 election too, but depending on the outcome, I might feel it’s time now to check out.😜

The feeling of the awe and joy of the beauty in the natural world and also in many many people ( but, sadly not all) is probably the best feeling one can have.

We are at an age now regardless of health of dyer diagnosis that we can truly stop and smell the flowers.

I expect when I stop wanting to look forward to something, even if it’s just the next breath, I’ll know it’s time for me to go.

I can only depend on the beauty in nature. Political news is leaving me in the wrong place. I must refocus.

Beautiful post, very touching and true. I think brushes with the "lucky dark" do give us a greater love and appreciation of the universe. Or even hard times, our hearts are broken open and we are somehow more delighted in the amazing beauty around us. And oh, I laughed, and was happy to know that someone else thinks "How hard can it be, just look at all the people who have died before me!
It's ridiculous, but true.............they all managed to make it off planet! One reason at least several other cultures revere elders (and children) is because they are closer to the other side.

There is a world of wisdom in this post, Ronni, thank you for sharing it.

Am going to save it for future reference ✨

Your comments about staying up late to watch the presidential election returns took me back in time - to my sister and me and our grandmother watching each year. That old excitement is gone now that they're predicting results before the the polls have even closed everywhere in the country. We also sat through the nominations marking off boxes on the forms provided by the newspapers. Thank you for taking me back there.

Thank you, Ronni, for your writing and sharing. It was beautiful and sad.

I have a friend caregiving 2 elderly parents in frail health. She told me she would be happy to die when it's her time. I told her she may think differently when the time arrives. Dad grieved. We talked, or I should say, I talked about it with him, he was rather taciturn, but he was a fighter by nature.

The cause of death for Dad was lung cancer but in the previous 2 years, he had suffered a stroke and then a heart attack.

You just don't know until you are faced with it.

"Everyone who ever lived has died."

It doesn't sound flip at all, but profound, to me. Thank you.

My mother lived two years after her pancreatic cancer diagnosis. She might have lived longer had her doctor taken her complaints more seriously when she first went to him about it. By the time of her formal diagnosis it had already spread to her liver, yet she lived for two more years. She was active up until the last couple of months.

I'm with Victoria: we can't imagine a future without you in it either!

it is true, we all will die. but i do believe that positive mind and a happy heart can help us to fight the sickness. my friend was diagnosed cancer, but he keep moving on and live with a clear mind and happy heart. in the end he was cured.

Love to you, Ronni, and thank you for letting us look through your eyes.

The comments to this entry are closed.