#downer: What Silver Lining?

Sometimes silver linings are hard to find in bad situations … they’re faint and almost obscure. But we try anyway, because it’s easier to accept harsh reality when there’s hope … when there’s something to look forward to at the end of the tunnel. This is a depressing article … what’s more, winter is coming, I know … so why am I writing this? Well, this situation has been going on for months now … it’s still unraveling. So unless you have a strong mind and will, you’re better off reading something else.

Shane, not his real name, is a middle-aged co-worker of mine. A single caucasian man who used to live with his parents. He has no vice, seems fit enough for his age, and somewhat active. Well, he doesn’t jog or anything strenuous, but he walks. He’s a very proper kind of man. He wears a suit to work all the time, even on jeans day. He has this really strange habit of keeping the blinds at work shut. He sits at a corner, so if your spot is adjacent to his … you will never see the sun, autumn leaves, snow, heavy downpour, or dinosaur crossing the street since he will close the blinds on both corners. If he’s on vacation or away … then you’re in luck. This is not to say my other co-workers have no quirky habit … like the one who is obsessed with garden ornaments, or the other one who likes his space resemble a garbage dump site, or the other one adorn with photographs of dogs. (pause) … but I digress.

Shane mostly keeps to himself, mingles from time-to-time, and gets the job done. His parents were in their mid or late 80s. He took care both of them. His mother would call him all the time at work for all sorts of things, from bills to doctor’s appointments. Since my spot is near him, it’s easy to overhear his conversations, because he’s not really discrete. He wouldn’t go out to take his calls … no, he takes personal calls at his desk … out loud. So we all know what he’s up to. Last year, his mother got sick and was admitted to Burnaby Hospital. Apparently, that hospital is a death sentence. He had all sorts of trouble, and at one point he was going to file a complaint to the City of Burnaby. Well, he actually talked to people in the city but that didn’t go anywhere. His mother didn’t make it. So it was just him and his father. His dad was also battling some sort of ailment. His father also made frequent calls to him in the office. One time it was about cable TV subscription, then groceries, then some issues with the nurse, … just a lot of trivial and important stuff. Early this year his dad passed away. He had to endure the loss of both parents in such a short time. He only took a short time off. He worked on settling his parent’s estate and selling of properties … at work! All that while he wrestles with project managers on various projects at work! So he would go out during lunch break to meet a prospect car buyer, then get back to attend a project meeting, then his family lawyers, etc.

I don’t know how he did it but he managed to get his personal affairs settled. He made big money from property sale … three quarter of a million. That’s a lot of money. And ask myself “Why is he still here? Why won’t he retire now?” I most certainly would! It was disconcerting to come to work everyday and having to listen to him wage war with people on the phone … that is not business related.

About four months ago he fell from his home and broke his wrist. While being treated at Burnaby Hospital, his doctor diagnosed that he has late stage cancer. They only told him he had a mild stroke, and that it was the reason why he fell and why he’s been having bad headaches. They didn’t told him he has cancer, that it has already spread to his lungs and pancreas, and that its terminal. He is eager to go home. He’s had enough of his stay at the hospital in a small room that he shares with another patient.

According to his relative, who is looking after him and managing his affairs, he took care of his parents for the past then years. He speculate that that probably drained Shane. The stress that Shane had to endure at home and work took a toll on him, his body just gave up! My other co-workers said, Shane told them he was planning on working for a few more years at the company and then retire. He has this big plan about things he wanted to do. And he calculated that with his retirement benefits and his inheritance money, that he’ll be able to do what he’s been planning to do for so long.

I’ve been told that he’s lost a lot of weight but in good spirits. He still don’t know his true condition. His relative is doing everything to make the necessary arrangements so he can go home, since he now needs special care. They will try ask the hospital to discharge him. And if they say “no,” he’ll have to tell him why. Since he will be asking questions why they won’t let him leave. His relative is afraid the only way he’s leaving the hospital is when it’s over.

The one thing that really troubles me is the secrecy. If I only have a few more months to live, I would surely want to know that fact so I can plan how I spend the rest of my days. Why would I even bother going through chemo if I know it’s not going to work? Why would they even worry if he’s going to be upset if the learns about the truth? There’s no escaping this one anyway. It’s one tragedy after the other.

I’m not going to visit him. I’ve already made that decision last week. I just lost a family member this year, and I’m still emerging from that cloud. I don’t have any plans on getting attached to somebody whom I rarely spoke and then get sucked back in to the gloom. It’s NOT a good place to be in … mentally or emotionally.

Shane’s life is a tragedy. He dedicate his life to caring for others’ well being, but it seems like he neglected his.

People try to accumulate so much wealth only to perish before they can enjoy the fruits of their labor. People amass so much wealth they can’t take with them when they’re dead! Isn’t enough enough? People dedicate themselves to caring for others, others who has already lived their lives, and then get sort of deprived from living theirs, that’s unfair! It sounds selfish, but we all have our own lives to live. If people decides to take a vocation caring for others, that’s great! But when you’re just a corporate slave aiming for retirement … and expect whatever consolation you’ll get along the way … I don’t know, it’s a sad path. Family life isn’t even an option, yes, it helps if you have family to look after you … but it’s not for everybody. Some people go into that sort of thing and end up in ruins.

I’m sure there are a lot of lessons that can be learned from his story … so it’s not all for nothing. If you’re happy with the choices in your life, that’s the great. Otherwise, make some changes!

Live your life! Viva su vida!



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