I'll never forget one of my last visits with the man who was my pastor for two decades. He was dying from an advanced case of kidney cancer that spread to many areas of his body. He was weak and bedridden. His speech was unintelligible. I'd been asked to help for care for him while his wife took a well-deserved break.
There was another person visiting him at the time; her name was Blanche. She was his secretary, office manager and friend, for more than 20 years. At one point in the visit he used his arms to wave her to come closer to him. As she moved closer, he waved arms a second time. She moved closer. Not satisfied with the distance between them, he waved his arms a third time until her face was inches away from his. With great effort, he lifted his head off his pillow to plant a kiss on her cheek. Immediately, he sank back into his bed.
In the course of our friendship I'd heard him preach hundreds of sermons. I'm embarrassed to admit that I can't remember more than dozen, but the sermon on love I saw him demonstrate that day was the most powerful and unforgettable sermon he'd ever given, and he did it without uttering a word.
On that day he taught me it's possible to demonstrate love, respect and express appreciation when your body is ravaged with disease. He taught me that when you think creatively you can demonstrate love without the capacity to speak it in words.
As I looked to apply this lesson to my own life, I realized that as a prostate cancer survivor, I have arms, legs, eyes, a voice and an intellect, all of which can be utilized in the expression of love and appreciation. The important question I had to ask myself was how well, and how often, I use these valuable resources in the service of love?
How would you answer that question?
I don't want to wait until I'm on my deathbed before I decide that demonstrating love, affection and appreciation is my highest priority Loving those around you intentionally isn't an easy habit to develop. It requires you to put aside your to-do list. It requires your focused attention. It means shutting out every distraction. Ask yourself the following question: Will you allow your diagnosis of cancer to remind you of what's really important in your life?
Blanche moved away from Modesto. Several years later our paths crossed. We talked about that kiss, which once again brought tears to her eyes. It's a kiss she'll never forget. Neither will I.
Note: This article appeared in Prostate Cancer News Today
Rick Redner and his wife Brenda Redner wrote two award winning books. The first:
provides men and couples with information and support before, during and after prostate surgery.
Their second book was written for couples living with!erectile dysfunction. After living with erectile dysfunction for four years, Rick chose penile implant surgery. The couple share how implant surgery changed their lives and relationship.
The title of their book is: