Volume 2, Issue 1, January 2003
On December 28, 2002 at about two in the afternoon I witnessed a good friend of mine die of cancer at the Shaver Hospital in St. Catharines. He was 64. Ward found out he had inoperable cancer of the larynx and was told he would die within the year. I visited him as often as I could and we had some amazing talks about death, God and the purpose of life. Those of you who know me know that I am fascinated with the human experience.
Ward and I knew each other for about 12 years. He was a person who kept the outside world at arms length. He was a very private person, yet I seemed to be able to break through that wall and probably knew him better than most. Ward was a successful teacher who retired many years ago due to ill health. Although he was a mentor to many, like many of us, Ward did not actually know how many lives he touched in a positive way.
As the word spread that Ward was sick, he was overcome by the response of his friends and family. People he had not seen for years came to visit with flowers, chocolates (his favorite were Brandy filled) and pictures of him experiencing life. We created Ward’s Wall and everyday you could see the love that his friends and family felt as the wall grew and grew. Some days you actually had to wait in line to see him. His room was full of hugs, kisses and laughter as he remembered his life with those he had touched over the years. The phone kept him busy as well. Ward received phone calls from across Canada from past students and colleagues. Ward was flabbergasted. He had no idea how well he was respected and loved.
One night while we were chatting (a rare visit when we were alone), I asked him what he would change if he had a second chance. Without hesitation, he said, “I would not beat myself up as much as I did.” Ward was finally coming to the conclusion that he did have worth; that he was loved; that he did make a difference.
The more we talked and the more he looked at the wall, he was able to be at peace knowing he did in fact leave a legacy to those whose life he so lovingly touched.
Too many of us go through this journey not realizing we do have worth. Too many of us go through this journey wondering why people want to be with us. Too many of us go through this journey beating ourselves up. Too many of us leave this world not knowing or understanding that we do have worth and that we were in fact successful. The problem is that we have difficulty measuring our own worth and celebrating our successes. Here is a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson that sums up what Success is and I dedicate this to my friend Ward.
“That a person is a success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much...who gained the respect of intelligent people and the love of children...who has filled their niche and accomplished the task: who leaves the world a better place than they found it. Whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem or a rescued soul...who never lacked appreciation of earth’s beauty...or failed to express it; who always looks for the best in others and GIVES THE BEST THEY HAVE!!!”
Those of you who knew Ward would understand that this was him, and that this was how he lived his life.
Ward’s legacy to you comes from his conversation with me and that is to tell you all, DON’T BEAT YOURSELF UP.
Understand that you are a good person. Understand that you do your best. Understand that you are loved. And understand that you were created exactly as you are.
BE THE PERSON YOU WERE MEANT TO BE AS LONG AS YOU DON’T KNOWINGLY HARM OTHERS.
PEACE, LOVE AND HAPPINESS IN 2003
“Go through life with dignity and be proud of who you are.”
I would like to touch on what Ted wrote about Ward’s Legacy. Not only must we realize and appreciate our own worth, but also the worth of others. Help the people in your life see their worth and success. Many people don’t have the strength to care for themselves and many people are so busy looking after others that they just don’t make time for them. It’s up to you to say to that person in your life - ‘I love you. You’re a wonderful person. You are an inspiration. Do you see how much you have accomplished?’ And keep telling them until they understand that it is the truth. Appreciate yourself, those around you and never take anyone for granted.
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