"Amen, amen, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to dress yourself and go where you wanted; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go.”
-- John 21:18
Mark Weber is a retired Army Lieutenant Colonel. In itself that isn't a big deal; there are many retired officers and enlisted personnel from all branches of the Military out there. But at age 41, he is dying from a form of cancer that has torn up his intestines and metastasized to his liver. Initially thought to be ulcers, it took multiple visits to specialists to figure out what was going on.
He was told in 2010, when he initially was given this diagnosis, that he had four months to live. That was three years ago.
He wrote what ended up being a series of letters that were intended for his sons. Ultimately taking form in a book that was released yesterday entitled, "Tell My Sons: A Father's Last Letters", he imparts life lessons that are as profound - and true - as they are simple.
As far as Col. Weber is concerned, his courage in the face of adversity is admirable. Hence the title of this post.
It reminded me of "The Last Lecture", by the late Randy Pausch. I talked about him in this post a number of years ago.
Some of the excerpts below come from the following article from the New York Post:
“There is a time and a place for crying and laughing. And figuring out how to cry and laugh at hardship or death is a skill worth honing into a fine art when you’re young.”
“We’re taught early in life that being afraid is something to be ashamed of. This is wrongheaded. Fear is healthy. Fear keeps us alive. When I went through the Army’s airborne and air assault schools and learned to jump out of planes and slide down ropes hanging from helicopters, I did not want to be sitting next to any trooper who wasn’t just a little afraid about what he or she was going to do.”
“The value of noticing and caring about what is right in front of your face—simple, common social graces. ‘Please’ and ‘thank you,’ for starters, but also giving credit to others when and where credit is due, taking a personal interest in those you serve or who serve you, and ‘unplugging’ from gadgets and the churn around you in order to give a person your full attention. These are simple to talk about but harder to do, and they not only lead to success but encourage others to help you succeed or manage your failures.”
“Pain and suffering—self inflicted or otherwise—is not merely a rude interruption of your journey, but one of the very purposes of the journey.”
In reading and watching interviews given by Col. Weber, as well as reading the excerpts of the letters he wrote, the verse from John's gospel immediately came to mind. It is as fitting as it is unfair. He says so himself in some of these interviews, and I couldn't help thinking that this verse was meant for someone like him.
It has given me much to think about.