On Cell Phones
Bravo Mr. Cheney

My Most Personal Fear

Dad died when I was sixteen (I always have to remember that Kelli was only 12 and turned 13 two days later). I watched my father die. Actually, I held his head and wiped it with a damp cloth while he took his last breaths and received cpr that would not save him, though I had revived him once already. Dad was 41.

I used to be pretty ambitious and driven. Ivy League, Rhodes Scholarship, social and political prominence -- those had been my childhood and teenage dreams, and they were possibly realizable.

But that all changed when Dad died. He'd overworked. The stresses of his job had killed him.

I learned my lessons. What matters is home and family and children and living a life where people miss you when you are gone because they've had a part of you while you were living. My priorities changed.

One lesson was that life was not to be wasted. It could be short. Mine would probably be short. Dad died of a heart attack, his first and only. Dad was adopted, but we had learned years earlier that the man from whom my father got his DNA had died of a heart attack in his sixties, as had an uncle. On my Mom's side her maternal uncle Frank died of a massive heart attack (three actually) in his sixties. Her paternal uncle George died of a massive heart attack in his sixties. Her brother, my uncle Glenn, had a major heart attack at 38 and though he's almost miraculously long out-lived the life expectancies given him over the years, he won't be here forever.

All that to say, my genetic make-up is stacked against me. I've known since I was a teenager what my likely killer will be. And that has never scared me. I've taken comfort in knowing. It is something I can take steps to prevent. I've never smoked. I take better care of myself and eat better than all those people did at my age. I'm on cholesterol lowering drugs.

But I've always known that probably no matter what I do, I won't ever be eighty. When I turned 20 I went through something of a crisis. At the time I morbidly called it my mid-life crisis, because I was wondering if I had already lived half my life (I really dread the 41st year and turning 42 will be a big relief twelve years from now).

The lesson I learned then was that I didn't want to waste my life. Though I've never feared death, I've feared coming to my death not having lived. So I wanted to soak up the experiences of life. And I didn't want to waste time. What I wanted out of life was pretty simple, it wasn't the big, grand things that I probably could have aimed for. I just wanted what many would find to be a boring traditional life of family and home and friends and a job where I did something meaningful that helped other people. Maybe my grandest dream is to sit at a Thanksgiving table with my children and grandchildren.

The weird irony, of course, is obvious.

So that's why every time I think it might finally begin to happen, I fully open myself to it and enter it with abandon. And why I fucking hate the waste of time.


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Thanks for being so open.
Very bold and very admirable.
Good stuff. Thanks.



Barrett Wooten

that was really powerful, but also really freakin sad and bitter, but its true, great post


Scott, I haven't talked to you in about a hundred years, but I seem to be re-connecting with long-lost friends, so I thought I'd visit your blog for the first time. I must say, it was heart-warming to read this post. Made me wish I was back at your house in Shawnee, enjoying tender conversation with wonderful people. I personally hope you live to be 83.


i'm really sorry to hear that scott. if you're up for it, i'd love to talk to you about this. it's been hard to find someone who has gone through what i had to ten years ago, and i'd really like to hear your thoughts.


About a week ago I was venting to Marshall the frustrations I had upon giving up my "dream" of graduating early. I was really pissed off because I had put so much time and effort into planning it and actually beginning to execute those plans, and as I'm in my one long sentence of rage, he just cut me off. He said, "Look. You didn't waste your time. There is no such thing. I believe that time is never wasted. You can always find something from it."
And as much as I can argue with that, ultimately it's true. Though sometimes subtle and rather excruciating, time will show itself among all of us, revealing what we have learned and what we have yet to learn, the pain we have endured and the joy we share. Scott, if there's anything I can offer you it's understanding. I love you.



Hard post to read. I am glad you bring up again an ulitmate question. What is the answer? I think you've found it and are living it. try to heal what's wounded, enjoy the sacredness of life...I mean really enjoy it...in the meantime. Caring about the first grants legtimacy to the second.

You are legitimate to me. For what it's worth.


Scott...I love you dearly. No matter what happens in life, no matter what is thrown his way, my Dad will always look you straight in the eye and say "Life is rich and full." He means it every time. I think I see this in you. Together, we have enjoyed good food, good wine, good conversation and good friendship. You have loved and lost. You have lived the life God has laid out for you with abandon and reached out to take what he put in front of you. I can't imagine any of that feeling like a waste of time. You put wondrous thought into everything you do, from the smallest gift, to your new backdoor. I think that if you live one more day, or sixty more years, you can look at yourself and proudly say, "Life is rich and full."


Jeez. With all this sappy talk, they might as well have already buried you. You're doin' swell my friend. Don't let that genetics bullshit get in your way. We're living in a new day and age. You've got a wealth of knowledge that might prolong your life well past what you expect.

I often think about death. My maternal grandfather smoked himself to death...over the course of 75 years!!! (age 12-87). I figure if I don't get hooked on cigarettes, I can make it to 100. Here's for hoping. Cheers.


What's weird to me is that when I read your blog I didn't feel sad. I felt the opposite. How lucky you are to have a sense of peace. To learn at a young age what your father didn't know and what most people will never know. Live. Each day with joy. Even in the struggles. Struggles and grief and joy and pleasure aren't felt by the lifeless. They're only felt by the people who are willing to except them. You aren't doomed to death, you're granted an enlightened life.

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