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Old 12-14-2013, 12:10 PM
TracerBullet TracerBullet is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: SE Michigan
Posts: 1,481
I had reservations about disclosing this PM Chuck sent to me a couple of weeks ago, but after reading this remarkable thread and watching Chuck's amazing and elegant obituary, I now believe keeping some of his final thoughts to myself would be selfish. Please allow me to give some background to his comments to me, and forgive me for my indulgences of my own condition. I believe my own problems will highlight the incredible thoughtfulness of our now-departed Army Chief.

I am a rapidly aging and increasingly diseased man. In my youth, I served a year in Viet Nam and came away with severe neuropathy and diabetes as a result of Agent Orange exposure. A couple years later, I fell eight feet attempting to make an arrest while I was assigned to the CID. I came away with ruptured discs, spinal stenosis and now, arthritis. We also now fear I am in the original stages of Parkinson's Disease, again a legacy of AO.

I live with constant pain which has taken a turn for the worse since earlier in the year. In short, I turned nasty, sour and just a miserable person to be around. I felt extremely sorry for myself and spent hours and days sinking into darkness and evil.

I began to follow Chuck's posts and began to get an appreciation of the progression of his disease. I also saw how his humor and grace prevailed through what few if any of us can possibly comprehend. Somewhere along the way I had an epiphany which I can only attribute to Chuck's sweetness. I don't know how else to put it, but this remarkable man whom I never met, pretty much showed me how to live a positive life regardless of whatever problems I had. I sent him a private message expressing my admiration for him and explained how he did so much to save my life. Here is what Chuck sent back to me:

John,

Don't even know quite where to begin, and these PMs are pretty space-limited to start with, but I am humbled by, and grateful for, your kindness.

It is difficult to know sometimes the impact that we have upon others, whether deliberate or incidental. Although I have never asked God for healing, I have prayed earnestly that He use me -- and this situation I'm in -- in some meaningful way in the days that I have remaining. Notes like yours give wonderful purpose to these prayers. Thank you. I am at perfect peace with my fate (we're all dirt in a box in 30 years anyway, no?), but I want to invest myself in others as well as I can for as long as I can until I am called home.

Always a delight to hear from another old Chief, of course, and you can be sure that you will be in my prayers. Being familiar with pain, and the associated impact that it has upon mental state and everything else, I can certainly empathize with your situation. Don't let anger or bitterness get the upper hand on you, brother -- I'm encouraged to hear that you've seen some recent hard-won victories here. The body can surely be a challenge, but ultimately the spirit and the will are decisive. We are, after all, the men that we choose to be, regardless of the cards that we are dealt. Composure and grace aren't always easy to come by, of course, but when you can't control outcomes anyway, they do make things easier to bear in the meantime.

As odd as it must sound, given all that God has taught me through this cancer, I would not seek to go back and change it now if I could. The perspectives I've gained have changed me as a man for the better in more ways than I can even begin to count. I'm simply grateful now for each new day. Some are a little harder to get through than others, true, but every one of them remains a blessing. As I told my wife a few days ago, "I've never been more miserable (physically), but I've also never been happier in my entire life."

Perspective.

Again, my sincere thanks and abiding respect ... you cannot even fully know the significance of your words today.

Chuck


What a man!
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