Archive for July, 2010

A Tribute

July 24, 2010

My brother passed away yesterday. He was only 51 years old.

Of course it is a time of sadness and more specifically for me, because his diagnosis saved my life. Conrad was diagnosed with stage 4 colorectal cancer in 2008. Because of that, I had a colonoscopy.  I had the same cancer, but in a very early stage. While he has been on chemo and watched his cancer spread to other organs, a simple surgery completely cured mine.

Shortly after my surgery, I drove down to Arkansas to have lunch with Conrad. Both of us dealing with the same illness created a new ability to speak more intimately about life and our concerns over our futures.  We talked about his treatments and the doctor’s expectations. At that time he was hopeful that he would have more than a couple of years.  Con was feeling good. But, at the same time, he was facing the possibility of a shortened life.

During lunch I asked, “So…. how do you feel about it?”

The wisdom of his answer both surprised me and warmed my heart.  He wasn’t angry.  He did not look at his life with regret. In a way, his answer reflected gratitude.

He said, “You know what? This would be a real tragedy if it happened to a kid or a person who hadn’t done what they wanted in their life. But I’ve been able to do exactly what I wanted. I’ve lived the life of my dreams. Most people never get that.”

Always an avid fisherman, for the last 17 years, Conrad Dove has been a striper guide on Beaver Lake in Arkansas.  In order to achieve that goal, he worked full time at a job, did construction work on the side and, for many years, drove down on weekends to guide part time until he could afford to make it his full time living.

 And stories…… you know by his stories how much he has loved his work. I dare say, it wasn’t really work to him.

Over the last several months, as his health has declined, Conrad has been able to continue to guide because of the love of his wonderful friends and fellow guides who have gotten his bait and even helped him on his trips to handle the physical work that he could no longer do. So much so that only a week ago, he finally had to stop fishing.

We never really know how many years we will have on earth. Many people put off living their dreams for an entire lifetime.

But what a blessing and…. what a legacy, to, at the end of a life, be able to say, “I lived the life of my dreams.”