My friend Patti Jo is dying. And, like she did with life, she’s handling death with an amazing Grace that I am very blessed to witness.
First let me tell you about the bubble of a woman that is Patti Jo. She is a fellow realtor that I have had the pleasure of working with on several deals over the year. She goes 100 mph, always smiling, always positive and always helping others. She LOVES to promote other people’s business. She is known and loved in Lilburn for all that she does for the city. And over the past few years, she’s been winding down her real estate business and picking up her camera. She has taken thousands of pictures of Lilburn residents and shared them in various publications here in our town. In fact, I heard that when the announcer at the Christmas Parade asked “Raise your hand if you’ve had your picture taken by Patti Jo”, there were very few people that didn’t raise their hands.
But Patti Jo has cancer. She battled valiantly for a while, until it metastasized throughout her body. At that point, she decided that she really didn’t want to go through her last days with chemo and all the side effects. Don’t misunderstand, she’s not a quitter! Quite the opposite. She’s facing death on her own terms. And I have absolute, total respect for her decision.
I was blessed to have some time with her this past week. And before I got the chance to really sit down and talk with her, I would just get sad every time I thought about it. But, as always, I left her with a smile on my face. You see, facing death has given her a wisdom that is just amazing. She said that we all have to die at some point, she’s just dying sooner than she had hoped. She told me that knowing she is dying is a gift, not a curse. She’s said everything she wanted to say, she’s put all her affairs in order, cleaned out her house, given away possession of meaning to friends and family, and just generally made time to get her arms around dying. She is at peace.
The funny thing is, I really didn’t know what to say to a friend that is dying. And, I found that she had more wisdom for me than I could ever have for her. She told me that I needed to remember to find a way to remain calm in every situation. Hmmmm… she knows me, and she knows that I am a 100 mph girl too, and calm isn’t one of my strong suits! J So, I took this advice as a promise to remember to think of Patti Jo every time I thought I might lose my cool.
She also said that I should always handle everything I do with integrity. This is something that I already live by. She told that she respected me for my honesty and integrity. And, you know what, hearing that from her meant the world to me.
Then she said to always do everything you can to promote other people. Promote their business, promote their ideas, and just generally help other people succeed. This is something that she was very good at doing. I know this personally, because anytime that we worked together, it was always a win/win scenario. And, while I do try to promote other people that do good jobs for me, I can and should do more of this.
So, as you can see, a dying woman took the time to remind me to live. Live life fully, give honestly, give more, and just generally give back. Patti Jo is amazing, and I am blessed to know her. And, while I listened to what she said, it’s what she didn’t say that meant the most. You see, I walked away knowing that I am better for knowing her. And, I realized that more than anything else, that is what I want people to say about me when I die.