Friday, March 26, 2021
#85 / How Grandpa Died
That's Reese Erlich, pictured. Click the following link to read what Wikipedia has to say about him. Erlich worked with Walter Cronkite on four public radio documentaries (which may be where Erlich got the idea for that mustache). Erlich has done a lot of other interesting things, too.
Most recently (since 2017), Erlich has been writing a column for 48 Hills, which is an online, independent news source for San Francisco news and culture. If you don't already follow 48 Hills, you might want to give it a try. It's a progressive voice, advocating for our personal engagement in local politics, and I have come to value it.
Erlich's picture, above, comes from what Erlich says will be his "final column" for 48 Hills. Erlich is younger than I am, and he has an aggressive form of prostate cancer. No cure is now apparently possible, and the chances that Erlich will die soon have rather dramatically and unexpectedly increased. Erlich is definitely trying to stave that off, with chemotherapy playing a big role. Those chemotherapy treatments, however, are apparently sapping Erlich's energy, though they do not seem to be affecting his sense of humor.
In view of the fact that dementia is an affliction that apparently runs in his family, Erlich seems to think that prostate cancer might not be the worst way to go, if he has to go. He also has decided that it doesn't make much sense to delay the inevitable end of his writing career, and that it is better to lay down his column-writing work right now, while he still has enough energy left to walk out the door - and while he still knows what a door is, and how it works.
Being upbeat in the face of danger and death - and "danger," not "anger," is what I think that sign in the background is talking about - is how I would characterize the tone of Erlich's final column. I am typing out this blog post as tribute to him, and as a celebration of his contributions to political discussion in the San Francisco Bay Area. This blog post is also a statement of personal gratitude. I have a real appreciation for Erlich's good spirits in the face of adversity. And for his good humor, too! It's a model to which I aspire.
Speaking of humor, it is Erlich's contention that there are lots of advantages to dying in a "good way," as opposed to dying in a "bad way." Given the fact that you're going to have to do it one way or the other, you should consider the alternatives. For instance (you might have to think about this one for a beat):
You can end up dying peacefully in your sleep, like grandpa did, rather than yelling and screaming in terror, like the passengers in his car.
Thanks for that, Reese Erlich - good humor till the end! And all good wishes to you, in the minefields through which you're walking now!