Yesturday I buried one of the best friends in the world to me. It was a pleasant small quiet ceremony overlooking the river under two beautiful oak trees. My friends name was Jim. He loved to fish and work the ground in his flower beds and ride his harley when he wasnt engineering a new project on one of his houses. He was a real hoot to work with. Life had been good for Jim up to the point lung cancer came into his life. Ya see Jims family was all but gone except for a neice and nephew who lived 1500 miles away. He had chosen to never marry and so other than a couple close friends he was alone and he kind of liked it that way. Jim was kind of a recluse
and a bit odd but was always there for the community and friends if they needed anything. I first met Jim in the form of a landlord. He was in the process of renovating two very old homes that
he had come to inherit from his father. He seemed a bit offish and odd but we soon became friends. After losing a ten year job I started helping Jim on the houses to supplement my rent. He loved to travel between his cabin in wisconsin and his home in Iowa and his brothers home in texas. When he wasnt in Iowa I was charged with caring for his property. Jim wore what he called his three hats. The first and foremost was his friend hat, the second was his landlord hat, and lastly he had his what he called his asshole hat. And trust me nobody liked the latter of the three. I worked with Jim for almost 11 years and we became very close. when he started getting ill I was the natural one to help him when he needed it. As his illness progressed he became more and more dependant on me. When he would aploigize for burdening me with his illness my reply was always the same, "you were there for me and I will be there for you." As anyone knows who has been a caregiver those words are very serious words when it comes to cancer. The responsibility becomes a huge one and you must really harden yourself to the dreaded illness we call cancer. I tried to do it all on my own as long as I could as Jim was a very proud and private man. Hell the neighbors didnt know he was ill for the longest time. He just didnt want to burden folks with his problems. Soon it became too much and I had to call in the troops. I enlisted three of our friends to help ease the burden on me as my health wasnt the best either. Now I cant swear to this but I really believe that after he relized he was becomming a burden to others he decided he wasnt going to stick around. His illness progressed very rapidly and he quickly became bedridden. We had many long talks and in one of them he apoligized and said that he had decided that it just wouldnt be fair to all of us who were fighting for him if he checked out without a fight. His treatments started working but he just was too weak to deal with chemo. We were finally able to pry a prognosis out of his doctor and he gave Jim a few weeks at best. We were stunned as they had just told us his chemo was working and shrinking his cancer. It wasnt long before we were in and out of the hospital on a weekly basis. The decision was made by the docs and us that hospice was just what he needed to give him a break and let him gain some weight and strength back. Two days before we were to move him to hospice we were discussing it and he looked at me and smiled and said " I wont be making that trip." Obviously he knew something we didnt. the day we were to move him he crashed and was gone by 9:45 that night. All but a few minutes of his passing was very calm and peaceful. Myself and his other best friend was by his side till the end. One of our favorite sayings was "No matter how good you are some days the dragon wins" Jim had no pain thru this whole thing which was a huge blessing. I wish the end of this story was a happy one but maybe if you look at it thru Jims eyes maybe it is. I truly believe Jim is in a better place looking down on us and saying his personal favorite line "It Is what it is!"