Life is Good!

On June 6th, 2005, the day before our 47th wedding anniversary I “bought the farm” on the floor of the cardiac rehab unit in Ellsworth.  I woke up with an IV in each wrist and a strange nurse looking down into my face saying, “I just resuscitated you.  Hope you don’t mind.”  “Hey, that’s great,” I said.  “You just spent one of your nine lives,” she replied.
So Katrina and I celebrated our last wedding anniversary in the hospital in Bangor with three new stents and a small wedding cake the kitchen set up.  We were treated like kings and queens.  I was still Katrina’s primary care giver—she’d been diagnosed with inoperable colonic cancer in May of 2004—so for ten days I would call her up at midnight in the motel next to the hospital.  “Time to take your morphine,” I’d say.  “I love you,” she’d reply.  “Love you too, babe,” I’d answer.  Aids would wheel her into my room every day where she would sit in a recliner when she was not fussing about the room tidying things up.  She died at home on August 27th while I was lying beside her holding her hand with our son William and his wife Hélène close by.
Then on a cold November afternoon I decided to get my things from the Margaret Todd, a 151 foot windjammer I sing sea chanties on every Tuesday in season.  I climbed the rope ladder up to the taffrail, went aboard, got down below deck, took my too-heavy bags, went on deck and put my stuff on the taffrail.  I climbed down the rope ladder, picked up the lighter bag from the taffrail, over my head, and set it on the dock.  Then I reached up and picked up the heavy bag, 30 or 40 pounds.  All of me drained out of my body.  I could feel it go.  I could still see and think.  Wham!  The defibrillator went off.  The two wires attached inside my heart hit me with a jolt.  I dropped the bag, lay down alone on the cold dock under a grey winter sky, chewed and aspirin, put nitroglycerin under my tongue, thinking, “Am I going to die here on the dock?”  After five minutes I took another nitroglycerin and decided I wasn’t going to die just yet.
The doctors told me lifting things above my head wasn’t smart.  The memory in the defibrillator recorded my heart rate at 300, no blood moved, the undertaker would have had another customer if the defibrillator hadn’t done its job.
The result is I love life.  I love God.  I’d like to hang around and share love back and forth with William and Hélène, with everyone in my life, with everyone in the whole world.  There’s two or three books I’d like to finish writing.  A couple of blogs to do.  Maybe the world and the church need my take on things.  Maybe not.  Time will tell.
Dying is OK.  Living is OK.  I give my permission for either one.  I find myself thanking God for the past, the present, and the future—all of it.  The good, the bad and the boring.  Everything and everyone.

George Swanson, May 22, 2006


2 thoughts on “Life is Good!

  1. Thinking about the topics of life, death and women’s rights makes me wonder about Terry Schiavo. (She was in a Permanent Vegetative State when her husband, according to her wishes, petitioned to end her artificial life support, but was blocked form doing so by court battles for eight years.) Would politicians in Congress and interest groups have attempted to gain control of her destiny if she had not been a woman? [See for more information.]

  2. George
    I can not begin to tall you how having Katrina and you touching my life as blessed me in so many ways . The years at Saint Johns with the love and guidence of this person Jesus sent to preach the word and love
    Joe Annillo

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