Buford, better known as “Lucky”, was in his mid-sixties when he enrolled in our outpatient hospice services with liver cancer. Lucky was an avid outdoorsman and hunting enthusiast; and he especially enjoyed teaching young men to hunt. He maintained a small camper on the edge of Wayne National Forrest which served as his basecamp.
Lucky was an industrial pipefitter by trade and retired from the local steel mill. Lucky didn’t have extensive formal education but he possessed the heart of a student. He loved reading, studying and challenging others to think for themselves. Lucky was keenly observant and a free-thinker. He would not be put off by, nor satisfied with, other men’s interpretations. He wasn’t a “parrot sitting on his artificial perch just dutifully repeating what he had been taught to say,” (“Keys to the Deeper Life”, by A. W. Tozer).
Lucky and I came to refer to his terminal illness as his “journey” and one day I asked, “Lucky, where are you on the road today?” He pondered for a minute and then replied, “You know, it’s funny that you would ask me that, because I’ve been thinking about that word acceptance a lot lately. That’s an awfully big word and there are different types of acceptance.” He pointed to a glass of water sitting on the tray table beside his bed and explained, “I could ask you if you would like a glass of water and you could either accept it or reject it; but I’m talking about a different type of acceptance. I’ve been thinking that if I tell myself, ‘It’s not fair, it’s not supposed to be this way’, then I’ll make myself and everyone around me miserable. But if I can accept all these things that are happening to me as just a part of it, a part of life, then I can go on and do what I can and need to do. I’ve found that I have to be careful what line of thinking I allow myself to fall into.”
Scott Peck, M.D. wrote, “Life is difficult. This is the great truth, one of the greatest truths. It is a great truth because once we truly see this truth, we can transcend it. Once we truly know that life is difficult, once we truly understand and accept it then life is no longer difficult; because once it is accepted, the fact that life is difficult no longer matters,” (The Road Less Traveled).
Every now and then, when I’m frustrated, discouraged and telling myself, “It’s not fair…It’s not supposed to be this way”, the words of my departed friend and fellow pilgrim find their way back to me; and I’m reminded that I too, “have to be careful what line of thinking I allow myself to fall into”.
The Apostle Paul wrote, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty through God for pulling down strongholds, casting down imaginations, and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ…,”(2 Corinthians 10:3-5). Or in Lucky’s words, “We have to be careful what line of thinking we fall into.”
Loren Hardin is a social worker with SOMC-Hospice and can be reached at 740-357-6091 or at [email protected] You can order Loren’s book, “Straight Paths: Insights for living from those who have finished the course” at Amazon and Barnes and Noble .