On June 6th, 2005, the day before our 47th wedding anniversary I â€œbought the farmâ€ on the floor of the cardiac rehab unit in Ellsworth.Â I woke up with an IV in each wrist and a strange nurse looking down into my face saying, â€œI just resuscitated you.Â Hope you donâ€™t mind.â€Â â€œHey, thatâ€™s great,â€ I said.Â â€œYou just spent one of your nine lives,â€ 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.Â We were treated like kings and queens.Â I was still Katrinaâ€™s primary care giverâ€”sheâ€™d been diagnosed with inoperable colonic cancer in May of 2004â€”so for ten days I would call her up at midnight in the motel next to the hospital.Â â€œTime to take your morphine,â€ Iâ€™d say.Â â€œI love you,â€ sheâ€™d reply.Â â€œLove you too, babe,â€ Iâ€™d answer.Â 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.Â She died at home on August 27th while I was lying beside her holding her hand with our son William and his wife HÃ©lÃ¨ne 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.Â 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.Â I climbed down the rope ladder, picked up the lighter bag from the taffrail, over my head, and set it on the dock.Â Then I reached up and picked up the heavy bag, 30 or 40 pounds.Â All of me drained out of my body.Â I could feel it go.Â I could still see and think.Â Wham!Â The defibrillator went off.Â The two wires attached inside my heart hit me with a jolt.Â 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, â€œAm I going to die here on the dock?â€Â After five minutes I took another nitroglycerin and decided I wasnâ€™t going to die just yet.
The doctors told me lifting things above my head wasnâ€™t smart.Â The memory in the defibrillator recorded my heart rate at 300, no blood moved, the undertaker would have had another customer if the defibrillator hadnâ€™t done its job.
The result is I love life.Â I love God.Â Iâ€™d like to hang around and share love back and forth with William and HÃ©lÃ¨ne, with everyone in my life, with everyone in the whole world.Â Thereâ€™s two or three books Iâ€™d like to finish writing.Â A couple of blogs to do.Â Maybe the world and the church need my take on things.Â Maybe not.Â Time will tell.
Dying is OK.Â Living is OK.Â I give my permission for either one.Â I find myself thanking God for the past, the present, and the futureâ€”all of it.Â The good, the bad and the boring.Â Everything and everyone.
George Swanson, May 22, 2006