This week I received one of those calls you don’t want to get. An old friend was in ICU on life support, and the family was told to start deciding if they want to pull the plug or, if she comes out of her coma, to be ready to place her in a facility for regular treatments and tube feeding for the rest of her life.
When asked, “What would you want?” it got me thinking. Would I want someone pulling the plug if I had a chance of coming out of it? What if I came out of it and had to spend my life on a feeding tube and other treatments? What would I do?
I hope I never have to face such decisions with my family and I hope they don’t have to face them with me, but I also know it’s best to have an answer, and a living will, in advance so others are not burdened.
More to Offer?
And I started thinking about my friend who, in her late 60s, is mentally alert, sharp, highly intelligent, and has a lot to offer the world. Would she want a chance to do more? Maybe she would be in a facility and not terribly mobile, but what if she could write a life-changing book? What if she could use her brain in other ways, though her body is shutting down? Or what if she could defy the odds and find a way to get her body back to a better state? Though unlikely, we’ve all seen miracles happen.
Then I think of another friend who was in that exact situation: mentally alert but completely unable to function otherwise. He called me one day and said, “Get me out of here. I can’t stand living in a nursing home.” But there was no way to accommodate him. He died of a broken spirit, not even 55.
Moments like these bring more questions than answers, but also temporary moments of clarity. What if it were me? What would I want to have accomplished before that time comes?
I get terribly frustrated when I see friends who have lots of life left but who seem to be throwing it away, not making any meaningful contribution to the world. Not living a large life. Spending all their time on video games or television when they could be doing so much more. I wonder if they will look back and wish they had not thrown away their time on meaningless pursuits and substances — or maybe that’s the best it will ever be. Plus, who am I to judge? What’s for me isn’t necessarily for them.
If Your Lungs Work…
If you’re breathing, there are still contributions you can make. They might be major earth-changing ideas or simply offering lots of love to a child who will make great things happen because of your encouragement.
Life is fleeting. Moments like what my friend is experiencing really make me take notice. I like to think it’s best to be intentional about our life and the experiences we want to create. That means being deliberate, often creating a plan and following it. Some lives are filled with accidental magic, but what if you could create more magic, and more experiences and memories?
PS: My friend has improved, but is likely to need around-the-clock care going forward.
This is a reminder to me that I want to live life to the fullest. Sometimes I avoid things because I tell myself I’m too busy or don’t want to spend the money, but I usually regret it. I’m going to seize every possible opportunity to create memories, travel, make memories for my family, and do the things I love to do. My friend was fine one day, then BOOM, she wasn’t. It could happen to any of us. Let’s not get complacent when it comes to living a rich, full life. Live for experiences! Live large!
Hard to believe it’s about to be July 4th. Have a wonderful celebration of this great country. It’s imperfect, but it’s still an amazing place. Enjoy the celebration.
Last week my son returned from a mission trip where he helped Ukraine refugees and others in Slovakia. We’re glad he is home but very proud of him. I’m only wishing the entire family were together. I’ll work on that so I can create some lake memories.
This week I also held a free webinar about pastel painting with the editor of Pastel Today, Gail Sibley. If you want to see it, you can view it here.
Our next big event will be our international online conference for pastel painters (Pastel Live!). I’m already getting excited about it. I hope you can join me and artists all over the world.
Last week I announced that we are cutting off registration for our New Zealand painting trip, but in reality, it’s just because we’re almost sold out and because we want to have time to get the travel plans done before prices go up. But if you really want to go, we can squeeze you in. Just go to www.paintingnewzealand.com
I’ve sent a reply to one of your emails telling you how much I appreciate your writing and thoughts about art! You have accomplished quite a lot. I am a retired elementary teacher so I’ve done a lot too. Right now my husband and I are still in the process of rebuilding and recovering after one of the CA wildfires destroyed everything we had. It’s been almost 4 years but life is still not back to normal. One of the things that has kept me sane is my time to paint (watercolors).
We both dream of going to New Zealand, but not at this time.
Thanks Eric for seizing the moment and always stepping up. Because of what you have created, such as PACE and pushing me just a little, along with Roger Rossi,we’ve created a plein air group associated with SCNY, and introduced many more painters to the joy of painting on location.
Thanks for all your doing and God Bless.
Hi Eric, your insights into life are amazing. Thank you for sharing them with us. I love reading your thoughts, your mind is wonderful!
For seven years I visited my mom once a week in her Santa Fe nursing home. The last year she had dementia pretty bad and usually could not complete a sentence. But she could sing parts of songs like “as time goes by” She would blow me kisses as I left. Like a most beautiful work of art, she didn’t need to do to be. Her presence was a reminder of life full of loving sacrifice. All her children, grandchildren and great grandchildren felt the richness of her warm acceptance and just being by her side was the comfort of relationship. The best of humanity is seen in those who value and care for the helpless. like priceless art the value of a person made in the image of God cannot be easily explained.
Once again, Eric, what you share of your thoughts and ideas are wonderful, insightful, and gives a lot of us, IMPORTANT things to consider and think about! THANK you so much!! I have always felt we ALL are HERE, to help one another’s journey be easier, more fulfilling, and even at the end, to be more gentle! God bless, and thank you for “SUNDAY’S GIFTS”!!!
Thanks again Eric for the encouraging and motivating informative article. As a full time caregiver , [my wife of 46 years has Alzheimer’s], i appreciate your writing. Your son also to be commended. Enjoy the trip to New Zealand. Pretty sure that is the current home of oil portrait artist/teacher Andrew Tischier. Accomplished and alot of energy like you it appears!
HI Eric and Thank you, as always. Had a health scare, myself, just since coming home from Paul Smith’s. Turned out fine, after extra tests, and I am extremely grateful to God. But it gave me pause to think about everything in your piece, today!! Carpe Diem, without a doubt!! Happy and Healthy 4th to you and family (+blessings)!
I have listened to many many of your plenair podcasts while a am busy at work and finally now have a change to visit your Sunday Coffee with Eric blog. It is so coincidental that just before clicking on your link in my email that I filled out medical directives for the nursing home that I had moved my mother into. She is 93. These little coincidences – maybe that is how God and our guardian angles work to help us. We all go through the same things at different times and its is so nice to hear how others move through the process. Thank you Eric.
Many thanks once again, Eric
Happy Independence Day and please say thank you to your son for unselfishly serving the Lord on his trip to Ukraine.
What is the cost of the New Zealand trip?
Eric, this is exactly what I’ve been thinking about this week! Great post. Thanks so much and don’t count your friend out yet. Sending prayers.
P.s. All your recent posts have been so spot on. Thanks for all you do and for sharing what many others have on their minds. Your example of ‘living large’ is truly inspirational.
There is no link to watch the free webinar of Pastel Live. Was this an error?
Wise words once again! We had to make the life support decision for our mother, she had a severe stroke, and there was no getting better. It’s something you wouldn’t wish on anyone. I’m glad to hear your friend is getting better. Every situation is unique. Live large, live small, live in the middle, live whatever brings you happiness … that is key
It’s Sunday morning and I’m reading this. I’m living with a nonagenarian whose health has been uncomplicated, as part of the team that’s keeping her aging in place. If this situation changes I’ll need to move out of the area because I’m priced out of the housing market here. My grandkids are here. I’ve been praying that God will put me right where He wants me. As I write this I’ve been examining all of these points and my own motivations. I needed this today. Thank you!
I thought you were posting a link to the webinar but it isn’t there. I missed it as I’ve been hospitalized with Covid. I have time on my hands right now and would love to watch the webinar.
Thank you ,Eric, for your very thoughtful reminder to enjoy life. We all get somewhat complacent as time goes on, and your words gave me excitement and eagarness to continue to learn and experience even the little things. Thanks, too, for your effort at bringing back all our artist magazines,blogs videos, and workshops. Great job.
Beautiful thoughts, thank you for including me in your address book.
Thank you for giving another way of looking at our abilities, joy and gifts. Sharing with others our gratefulness for life and love. Your Sunday chats are inspirational and thought provoking.
Thought provoking insights! As I age I think about this often. My spouse and I are in our mid 70s. He has a pacemaker. We almost lost him! We’re happy to spend our time together, and blessed to have traveled the world together when we were able. Watching our grandkids grow up is wonderful too. I don’t know what the future brings but I trust in God we will make good decisions.
Good chat this morning. Thank you. One thing that did bother me a bit was the comment about the feeding tube. Well, I think a lot of folks have a bit of a misunderstanding of that. Your further comment about if your lungs are working then there is hope is better. My husband had throat cancer in 2020 and received radiation and chemo resulting in no more cancer but an esophagus that was closed with scar tissue. Three procedures have been unable to fix this thus he has been on tube feeding for over two years, which he manages himself. Yes, he cannot eat or drink as he used to but his mind and body are ok. Not what it used to be as he is 79 and not the athlete he was however he enjoys time around the house and can go out when he pleases, drives and is a pro at crossword puzzles. Has even gotten a personal call from Will Shortz of the NYTimes on his results in the national competition. So, pulling the plug on him would have been ridiculous, even when he was in icu on a ventilator due to one of the fix it procedures gone wrong. He pulled out of it!
Yes, we have living wills and at a certain point they are useful but need to be used only by someone you fully trust.
Thank you for your Sunday musings. I often pass them along to family members and friends who aren’t artists and my niece does subscribe. Your endeavors are amazing and helpful to more people than you probably realize. Thank you.
I am so glad your friend is improving! For 12 years my husband has needed constant care, but he is still serving the Lord contacting, praying and encouraging others who are suffering. He can’t use his arms or legs, but his compassion for each one is meaningful..
I am about to get hm ready for church where he surrounded after the service by those who he has encouraged!
Thank you for this!