Many people live remarkable lives but how many have remarkable deaths? The Boston Globe ran an inspirational Op-Ed column by Tom Keane, the eldest son of Thomas M. Keane, who was a man who did both.
His father’s life story, “reads like a cliché version of the American dream,” Tom writes. Patriarch of 11 children and 33 grandchildren, he was a veteran of World War II but his family was his life’s work, “No one on their deathbed regrets not spending more time at the office,’ he would say.”
“’Rage, rage against the dying of the light,’ Dylan Thomas urged his father, and I felt the same way,” Tom writes. “But my father had raged in the past, knowing when to pick his medical battles. This time he took a different course, a course he chose for himself.”
His father simply had a cold that became pneumonia. When no medicine could stop it his doctors suggested extreme actions “but he refused. ‘Call my wife,’ he said. “I’m ready to die.’”
Thomas was 88 when he passed away fully engaged with his family around him. “He received morphine to ease the pain but he was often awake and talking. We sang songs until he pointed out, ‘You’re repeating yourselves.’
As more family gathered he said, “Wow,” as he surveyed the packed room. “I was the last of the children to arrive,” Tom writes. “‘Glad you could make it,’ he said dryly. Words dissolved into tears. In truth, no words were needed.”
“‘Daddy, you’re still teaching us,’ one of my sisters said. ‘Teaching us how to die.’ ‘I love you all,’ he said and then, to my mother, who was bent over him weeping, ‘No. Be happy.’ He closed his eyes for the final time. ”No regrets.”
Read the full story here.