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Garth Callaghan

Napkin Notes Dad





The Napkin Notes Blog

Preparing to Die

WGarth Callaghan

A few days ago, I posed a question. Do you have a Will? I wanted some honest feedback and wasn’t judging. Most of the responses were that the person had a Will. Based on my limited experience, I sense that many of those without a Will were silent.

I’ve been working on a project with a new colleague and friend, Cindy DiTiberio.  It’s safe to say that Cindy knows me inside and out due to our work on this project. She knows both the public and the private Garth. She stunned me with a question the other day and I have been contemplating it ever since she asked.

Lissa and I had been working with a lawyer, Sharon Ten, and preparing a lot of documents. All of these documents were what you’d consider “end of life” documents. We worked on a Will, Power of Attorney, Advanced Medical Directives, and a Trust. I am ashamed to say I have never had a Will drawn up.  Yes, I have been battling cancer since 2011 and didn’t have a Will. Not only that, I have had a child for over 14 years and didn’t have a Will!

Cindy asked, “How do you balance preparing to die with the fact that you're doing everything you can to live?”

Well! Huh! Crud!

Living. Fighting. Staying Positive.

Preparing for death. The end.

They aren’t contradictory. In fact, they are hardly related.

I’ve made it pretty clear that fighting is an important aspect of my life. Heck, if I weren’t fighting, you probably wouldn’t be reading this. I shared something with one of my nurses last week. I told her I firmly believed I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I was on a path that I didn’t choose, but it held great importance to me. Part of my purpose is to be the most enthusiastic and positive cancer patient I can be.

I wake up every morning and choose to be positive.

It is a choice.

I grew up in a Funeral Director’s family. My dad owned the Callaghan Funeral Home. My maternal grandfather, Papa, owned the Keough & Son Funeral Home. Both Papa and my Uncle Ron ran that business. My cousin, Brendan, now co-owns the Butler-Keough Funeral Home in the same town.  Our family has been helping others with death and dying for over 80 years.

Death is an inevitable point in everyone’s life. Last I checked, we have a 100% chance of dying. We usually just don’t know the timing.

Even though it took a kick in the pants, I chose to prepare. My dad, ironically, didn’t. His Will was 40 years old when he died a few years ago. I am happy to say that we think we have done our best to legally protect the family in the event that one of us dies.

“How do you balance preparing to die with the fact that you're doing everything you can to live?”

I will die, someday. Let’s hope and pray it’s far into the future. In the meantime, I’ll fight like hell to beat this cancer.

"You beat cancer by how you live, why you live and in the manner in which you live." – Stuart Scott

Special thanks to Sharon Ten and the law firm of Bowen Ten Cardani, PC. They made the process easier than I expected and were incredibly thorough.

Again, thank you all for walking on this journey with me. I couldn’t do it alone.