Turtle's Progress

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Medical Stuff and Family

Today I have been doing the prep requirements for a colonoscopy procedure tomorrow morning. Finished the last dose of the phospho-soda, which was not nearly as bad as I had expected. Tom, Jennifer and Brody had pizza from Mellow Mushroom for dinner tonight and I can’t wait to have the leftovers for lunch tomorrow. This fasting stuff is no fun at all. But after the scare I had with the melanoma in March, this is probably a good follow-up just to make sure there is no cancer growing on the insides.

After going to the doctor and having the melanoma removed, my Uncle Jerry commented in an email that he was glad I didn’t have the “stupid Keith gene” that causes some of our relatives to not seek medical treatment when necessary. He was speaking of his older brother, my Uncle Chuck, who had failed a stress test a few months ago and had strong symptoms indicating heart problems. He refused to return to the doctor until he was forced to when he had a heart attack this past Friday and ended up in the hospital. Unfortunately, it was too late, and he died this morning.

My father was very upset when I spoke with him earlier today. This is the first of his family of six siblings to die, and I know it will be hard on all of them. I remember fondly the times spent at my grandparent’s home as a child when all of my uncles and aunts would be there arguing politics or making fun of each other. The love they shared was always obvious. Though they had all been born and raised in the same small California town, all but two had moved away, and they seldom spent much time together in recent years. My daughter Meghan’s wedding in July brought four of the six together for a celebration. Now the five remaining will gather to say good-bye to their middle brother.

I remember as a youth talking with my grandfather when the first of his many siblings died. I think it was my great Uncle Gabe. Grampa was very sad and spoke philosophically of how this was the beginning of the end of his generation of Keiths. This thought is probably much on the minds of my dad, my Aunt Mert, my Uncle Chester, my Uncle Jerry, and my Uncle Butch. Their brother, Chuck, who, with them, was also one of Chester and Almeda Keith’s children is gone, and with him a part of their shared history.

My Uncle Chuck is the first of either of my parents’ siblings to die. When it was great Uncle Gabe and I was a child, death seemed distant. It happened to people I didn’t really know; people who were old. My grandfather died when I was 19, and both of my grandmothers when I was an adult, but they were removed from me by two generations. Now, it’s my parent’s generation. Soon it will be mine.

Medical tests, treatment, and prescriptions will not prevent death but can certainly prolong and ease one’s life until the day comes. Some conditions can be cured, some can be prevented, some can be treated and managed. Not all of us will choose that course of action. At this point in my own life I plan to seek and use whatever medical treatment is necessary to keep myself healthy. Though, my Uncle Chuck was accused of having the “stupid Keith gene” perhaps he was making a choice. Maybe he didn’t want heroic measures and extensive treatment. Maybe it wasn’t stupidity at all but what he wanted. Not necessarily what his brothers or sister, who love and mourn him, would have wanted him to choose, but his choice, none the less. Though it may appear otherwise to those closest to him who will miss him terribly, I will think of my Uncle Chuck’s choice to decline medical treatment as his way of controlling his own life to the end.

RIP Charles Ivan Keith


At 8:53 AM, Blogger erin said...

THANKS A LOT for the tears this morning, Mom. But so glad to here that everything went great with your procedure. Love you so much...!

At 11:00 AM, Anonymous Joyce said...

In our conversations in the past few days, I did not know about your Uncle. I too, beleive that was a choice he made and hopefully will help in the healing with the remaining sibblings, other family members and friends.
My heart goes out to all.
I Love you,
Your Buddy,"Me"

At 11:25 PM, Anonymous Margaret Keith said...

Terry, that was a beautiful tribute you wrote about Chuck.
He was a wonderful, kind, loving man who will be missed very much.
Thank you for your sensitive and
perceptive words. He is probably up there in Heaven now...fixing some angel's tractor...or log splitter...Maybe God needs him up there to get things working right..
Love, Margaret


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