Sunday Faith Blog

sunset at the beach                               photo by Mr. Z

My Mr. Z wrote this a couple of weeks before he died.  I published it here on my blog shortly after the funeral, 5 1/2 years ago.  He was mentioned on the Comments Pages this week and that prompted me to publish this here today.  From October, 2009:

“Survival Guide……or The Worth of a Life”

There’s a Russian, one of the richest men in the world, who owns a yacht worth $850 million and the English soccer club FC Chelsea. I am sure he knows a lot of people in the ‘in crowd’, but I fear these people would drop him like a hot potato if he lost all his riches. I am saying this because at the end of the day he will face the Almighty with just a shirt on, like everybody else, but very likely with nothing else to speak of. Sadly, “empty” would probably characterize him correctly.

These thoughts came to my mind recently when I was thinking about my situation. I have a very grave illness (Z: Amyloidosis) and, when you are in a situation like this, you think about the meaning of life and whether it is really worth fighting for. I am well aware that there are people with more serious problems than the ones I am facing; as a matter of fact, we don’t have to look too far beyond our own circle of friends for that. But every situation is individually different and I can only speak for myself. I have invented a “Misery Factor“ with a scale of 1 to 10 to assess my situation, 10 being the worst. If I didn’t take chemotherapy, I am sure that, over the short or long term, it would approach a 10 permanently. With the therapy, it appears that the factor can be kept in check, and we will be able to see over time whether the corresponding blood values return to normal. I am optimistic. But I have to step back for a moment and explain what keeps me going.

The first factor is the doctors. After the first symptoms, it took quite a while to correctly diagnose this extremely rare disease. I was very touched by the concern and care these doctors showed in their almost zealous drive to find out what was wrong. I was also extremely impressed that these excellent doctors put their egos aside and consulted with other doctors when they felt like their amazing talents had hit a wall. This team of doctors ultimately got me to the one specialist in the LA area who deals with this illness – and he implemented immediately this chemotherapy with which he has had some good results in other patients. My point is: If they are personally that concerned about me and encourage this strenuous treatment, how can I not go for it?

But there is another, even more important reason. First of all, the care which I receive from my dear wife makes it possible for me to survive this ordeal at all. Not that I hadn’t expected that, but it has also brought us even closer together. In addition, I had never imagined such an outpouring of prayers and help keeping up my morale from my family and friends here, my family and friends overseas, and from many, many people whom I have never met or even heard of, through prayer chains, cards, emails and calls. This is unconditional love and concern and it comes in an avalanche which I would have never thought possible. It truly has caught me by surprise – but it shouldn’t have surprised me really, knowing the tightly knit family, the many old friends, and the religious roots of many of our (and mostly my wife’s) friends.

This clearly gives me the feeling that not only am I still needed and cared for on this earth, but that I will not stand with empty hands and only a shirt on when the time comes, facing the Almighty in whom my faith has solidified and who has always come through for me and my wife.This is a very comforting feeling and strongly confirms what is really important in life – it is certainly not the biggest yacht, or ownership of a soccer team; those things will mean nothing when any of us meets our Maker.

Z: A Postscript to this is that I printed this piece on card stock for the funeral hand-outs, with his picture on the cover and the funeral schedule inside….and I sent it to his specialists with thank you notes for all they did, including his heart doctor, who I went to see a few weeks after the Services and  who came into the exam room and said “I have what your husband wrote standing on my desk, I show it to everybody who comes in and read it to them!”  I even heard from people on Facebook that strangers had found it and republished it on their Facebook pages.  I had have some X-rays a month or so later and I took it to our radiologist, who is an acquaintance of many years and, when I was leaving and turned a corner down the hall, saw Mrs. Radiologist reading it to about six technicians.   This really had legs and I was so proud that it did.   It meant a lot that people were so moved by it and I hope you are blessed by reading it, too.  Mr. Z died from Amyloidosis.  I link HERE to information I wrote about this very rare disease in case it can help someone.

Be optimistic, have faith, never complain, and remember that THINGS don’t matter. For Mr. Z’s sake…….

werner running on beach

And, by the way, have a wonderful Palm Sunday.
Z

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37 Responses to Sunday Faith Blog

  1. What a beautiful testimony!
    What a blessed influence.

  2. Thersites says:

    Perhaps another measure of a life, is how much its’ presence is missed. And it is pretty obvious to me that Mr. Z’s presence if dearly missed by many people. Have a pleasant Sunday, Z.

  3. geeez2014 says:

    thanks, guys….He was quite a guy.

  4. Administering Chemo isn’t always in the best interest of the patient, I have learned. It seems to be used more and more in desperate circumstances where there is no known cure. We lost our youngest daughter at age 56 in 2012 from a rare, incurable disease called Anaplastic Thyroid Carcinoma. They administered Chemo for her as a last ditch effort to do something, anything, to try and stop its progress throughout her body. When one of our grandsons’s wife, an M.D. heard what she had, shook her head and said “she’s terminal. There is no known cure”. Its really sad. Life is precious so value each day as a precious gift from God.
    I’m sure you miss him as we miss our daughter, Z, and our hearts go out to you.

  5. Baysider says:

    I remember this post like it was yesterday. I am so glad for your PS. We don’t know the effect our words may have on others, and it’s sobering to recognize, even if in a good way. Such a beautiful testimony and what contrast to those without Christ.

    The story is told of a French maid who was hired to attend to one of the great atheist philosophers of the 19th century in the last weeks of his life, and how he was in despair to give anything for just a few more days of life. It was misery to be in the presence of that wretched spirit, and when it was over she said “I shall never attend to the death of a pagan again.” I’m happy to see how many have been blessed by Mr. Z!

    “I had never imagined such an outpouring of prayers. I hope Imp and his sister & family all know and ‘feel’ prayer support like this, too. They are certainly on my prayer list.

  6. geeez2014 says:

    Mal, Mr. Z’s chemo was del’d to our house because of the chemical volatility of the ‘cocktail’…he took it and felt like a new man. The second month, it did nothing and he then passed away after something they did at Cedars which was supposed to help and which I believe caused his earlier-than-expected death ..His specialists were stunned that he didn’t wake up the next morning. He’d have had another MAXIMUM 2 years if we were lucky; consisting of a heart transplant and then a stem cell transplant and that’s pretty much never worked on anybody…so I don’t personally look on that hell as ‘lucky’.
    I look at it as a blessing that he went when he did and painlessly. A blessing for HIM. I think God was very good to Mr. Z.

    I personally wouldn’t do chemo if there was no hope, but it saves millions, so….it’s a good thing it’s there! Of course, I knew about your daughter and still grieve for her, you, and her whole family……I can’t believe it’s already 3 years. And I know you must miss her so much.

    And yes, it’s impossible to put in words what it feels like to miss the person you loved and shared with and lived with.

  7. geeez2014 says:

    Baysider; thanks for your kind words. He enjoyed you and Mr. Baysider very much, too. And you know that it was the prayers of our bible study sisters which really REALLY touched him “Most of them don’t even KNOW me, and they’re praying for me?” Yup. That did a LOT to bump up his faith, BELIEVE ME.

    Imp and his sis are on my list, too……..and I, too, hope that prayer is helping.

    Today at church, our pastor talked a lot about prayer and reminded us that, in Mark, it basically says “Don’t pray without forgiving”. LOTS to think about!! REALLY something most of us forget. Then there’s that pesty “And forgive us our sins as WE have forgiven those who sin against US”…yikes. From Mark 11:

    25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26] [g]

    I DON’T WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANT TO!!!! NOT ALWAYS … heh heh!

  8. Imp says:

    I’m speechless…Thank you all. I’d like to reprint that letter too Z…perhaps read it to my sister at the right time.

  9. “I think God was very good to Mr. Z.”
    Still is 🙂

  10. Kid says:

    Z, I don’t know what the judgement day process is of course, but when I think about it I imagine that everyone who you encountered who is in Heaven them self more or less gives an up or down vote and reason why. Mr Z no doubt had plenty of up votes. I hope these kinds of ideas in addition to the many friends and strangers who prayed for him bring you comfort.

    As far as forgiving everyone, I’m not about to. Now, it is going to take some real evil for me to vote them to Hell (violent islamists come immediately to mind), but there are simply people who do not belong in Heaven. Surely, this is one of the benefits – that you no longer have to share living space with such evil.

  11. geeez2014 says:

    Ed….thanks

    Kid, That’s a rough thought, to have people we knew give the thumb’s up or down!

    As far as forgiving everyone, I get your point!, but it’s not them we forgive for, it’s for us. It’s for cleansing us of bitterness and resentment and hate, etc. According to what I read, our forgiveness does not absolve them of anything. Not at all.

    I’d like to hear if anybody has another take on that, because, let’s be real here, who really knows? But I think I’m right as far as biblical input.

  12. geeez2014 says:

    Imp, thanks. I hope it will be a blessing at just the right timing….you’re smart to wait till the right time.

  13. Kid says:

    Z, I certainly think how we are perceived by those we’ve Affected (may not have encountered actually) must figure into it. maybe we judge ourselves, maybe on God judges us.
    Maybe beside the point, but I don’t necessarily have bitterness and hate for those I’ve recognized as being evil. I just observe their evil and I don’t want to see it again for eternity, is my thought. I don’t forgive them on any level. At some point, each of them has a choice to make and these choose the wrong path. So be it. So goes it.

    PS – I’m sure you’ve got a lot of up votes 😉 Heck I give you one every day.

  14. geeez2014 says:

    Kid, that’s very nice to say…thanks!!
    I totally understand your thinking…but I do think that anger and hate for those who’ve really wronged us (How can we not feel that toward ISIS, for example? or leftwingers who’ve ruined America so much?) does hurt us. Maybe it doesn’t you, but it gets me ‘hopped up’ and a little uptight and ….you know.

    During church this AM, when we were hearing about forgiving, a friend who belongs to AA whispered to me “That’s the first thing AA encourages…forgiving ..” And I think that’s to cleanse their own selves of ‘junk’.

    You can probably cope with the feelings toward ISIS (for example), handle it, better than I can, that’s for sure….

    Anyway, the prayer says “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us” And, if that’s the Truth, and I believe it is, and WE have to forgive so HE forgives us…well, I’m going to TRY 🙂

  15. Kid says:

    ISIS is a good example. If I could blink an eye and kill them all right now, I’d do it.

  16. Imp says:

    @Z..”That’s the first thing AA encourages…forgiving ..” And I think that’s to cleanse their own selves of ‘junk’.” Right…but that forgiving is for the one in AA to accomplish. By facing those he’s offended by their behavior…to make amends to those he’s injured. Which is the 8th Step of the 12.

  17. Imp says:

    And partially, the 9th too.

  18. Bob says:

    That;s a beautiful story, Z. You were blessed with that man, and he was blessed to have you for his wife. Thanks for publishing it.

  19. Mustang says:
    I want to associate with the remarks of my friend Kid. I do not think we should reason that eradicating virulent Mohammedans is the killing men; it is more like cleansing the earth of a malevolent disease. I do not pray for these people because they have not sinned against me. They only offend my sensibilities. What they are doing is sinning against God. I pray that God will strike them down, but not for my sake — for the sake of the innocent, who are God’s children, too.
  20. Imp says:

    @Mustang…any animals like those of ISIS have to be Evil, real spawns of Satan. Satan exists here among us…and IMO…they’ve manifested themselves on earth in the form of the Mohammedans. I feel no need to wash my soul of any guilt to appear to be a forgiving Christian. I believe in an eye for an eye…..and in killing these snakes….is our duty as Christians…to preserve Christianity. Would Jesus want us to strike back? I think so. If the Crusades hadn’t had the sanction and backing of Christianity…..we’d all be raising our asses in the air 5 times a day.

  21. lisa says:

    Z that was absolutely beautiful. How awesome the appreciation Mr Z had. Very touching. He sure left a wonderful legacy
    Although I am sure you wish he were still here,you both were truly blessed

  22. Baysider says:

    What a great point, Imp. Lots of problems with the Crusades, of course (was there ever a perfectly executed war?). But as attempts to retrieve their ‘property’ and kingdoms overthrown by the Mohammedans, we have to remember these essentially defensive struggles pushed back against aggressive Islamic invasions of Europe and more or less kept the scourge of piratical Islam at bay – from Tours to Malta, from Vienna to Constantinople. Thank God! for Charles Martel, Jean de Valette and the Knights of Malta, and Jan Sobieski – and many others.

  23. Imp says:

    @Bay…”Thank God! for Charles Martel, Jean de Valette and the Knights of Malta, and Jan Sobieski – and many others.”

    Bay…Thank God indeed. But I wonder Bay…do we have men of such conviction and caliber today…as we had 1000 years ago? Who is going to be the next Charles Martel….Who is going to rewrite history again and free us of the scourge, the disease, the crimes of Mohammedans, Saracens and the world awash in their evil? Who will it be? 1000 Years ago the armies of the time that we threw against the islamists…were men with swords, axes and on horseback. And at that time…they were the weapons of mass destruction…where war was brutal, bloody and face to face…hand to hand. Today….we have the most incredibly powerful; weapons ever imagined by mankind. Will we use them…or will we waste them and let them go unused so that we can face these skirmishes and silly ground wars with infantries for the next 20 years? IMO…I’m perfectly satisfied to do without their energy and oil fort a few years. We’ll see our own resources take their place. Me? I want to annihilate and crush them under a nuclear winter that completely devastates and removes them from civilization for at least the next 1000 years. God Willing…as these assassins chant.

    You know your history Bay…..what’s your prediction….and I’ll tell ya how to play a DVD on your Mac…lol

  24. geeez2014 says:

    Bob, thank you SO MUCH.

    Imp; it’s definitely to cleanse yourself of hanging on to ‘junk’….but what AA members have done to others is also something to be addressed for that ‘freedom’ after having done so…I think so, anyway. What do I know? I just had a wine at Casa Escobar (with Sylvia, Baysider :-))
    And you’re right….we are expected to strike back…..

    I don’t know why forgiveness feels like we can’t act on unrighteousness; maybe it does…I guess it does. But it doesn’t. If you know what I mean!?

    Mustang and Kid; there is nothing against killing those who are threatening you…this is about forgiving and I stick to what I know what we’re told.. Mark 11 25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” [26] [g]
    And, as I wrote above …we’re told to pray for the same forgiveness we give others.

    lisa…thanks. and yes, I SURE DO wish that…

  25. geeez2014 says:

    I’m so glad so many of you showed up with such good input …..thank you. It means a lot to me, particularly on this post.

  26. Imp says:

    @Z…”I don’t know why forgiveness feels like we can’t act on unrighteousness; maybe it does…I guess it does. But it doesn’t. If you know what I mean!?”

    If that isn’t a conundrum….then I don’t know what is.

  27. geeez2014 says:

    Imp; I could go on and on about that but….I guess it’s just interesting to get us all thinking?

  28. Imp says:

    It did me….

  29. geeez2014 says:

    Just after I went back to the TV after reading your comment, Imp, I had KILLING JESUS on and the words out of Jesus’ mouth were that we were to forgive everyone, no matter what! WEIRD that would happen at that moment!….

  30. Imp says:

    Jesus might change his mind today if he had YouTube or MSNBC.

  31. Baysider says:

    Uh-oh, I forgot about watching Killing Jesus tonight (:
    Imp: my computer is ONE PLACE I do know how to play a DVD! 🙂

    “Bay…..what’s your prediction?”
    If I could see such a figure on the horizon, then surely the musselmen would too and would not be so bold. I don’t. Not a Churchill, not a Cecil, not a Burke. We have the power, but not the will to do this because we have dug our grave in the diversity-all-cultures-are-equal crap.

    But they don’t see Him in Isaiah 62: … who comes from Edom, in crimsoned garments from Bozrah, … marching in the greatness of his strength? “It is I, speaking in righteousness, mighty to save.” Why is your apparel red and your garments like his who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress… I trod them in my anger and trampled them in my wrath; their lifeblood* spattered on my garments, and stained all my apparel. For the day of vengeance was in my heart. [Looking ahead to Revelation 19: Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse. And He who sat on him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war. … He was clothed with a robe dipped in blood, and His name is called The Word of God.]

    This is what it will take to dismantle this mess. IMO. It’s erupting like a cancer worldwide. Everything else is only containment. And we don’t have the will to do that.

    Nukes or something very bad will get into that neighborhood. While Chuck Missler can get overly imaginative, I am indebted to him for the insight on Ezekiel 39:12-15 where for 7 months Israel will clean up war dead and bury them downwind of Israel, east of the Dead Sea. A traveler passing through later who even sees a bone won’t touch it, but will mark the location and let the professionals come in to handle it. He claims this is a standard right out of DOD NBC warfare procedures (for handling nuclear, bio, chem). This does not end pretty. Unless you read ahead to Rev. 19. 🙂

    Z and I have spoken about this – even though we are sorry to lose our loved ones, we are relieved that they don’t have to see what we see today.

  32. Baysider says:

    So circling back to the original post, Mr. Z’s insights. He lived a full life – even if not full enough in my never very humble opinion – and had a positive impact on so many. Man, I wish you all could have heard what was said and read at his services. This was a Mensch! I don’t want to stand with ’empty hands’ before the Lord either.

    Z, thanks again for posting and reminding us all we have a purpose here, and it’s not to build bigger barns. I’m grateful for the ones the Lord has blessed us with, but I’m leaving those behind and want to build the works of gold that I take with me.

  33. Mustang says:
    I never met Mr. Z personally, but I did talk with him on several occasions. He was a remarkable man and … I thought of him as my friend. Today, I miss him. This is perhaps remarkable in view of the fact that we never met. For what it is worth … Mr. & Mrs. Z are my closest friends. Today, while I may not agree with Mrs. Z on everything .. I love her as if she were my sister. I sense that Mr.Z looks down upon us and smiles … he knows things that we in our present state can never comprehend.
  34. bunkerville says:

    Wonderful piece G. I have been under the weather so I am late in getting around my fav blogs!

  35. geeez2014 says:

    Imp, I can’t speak for Jesus (other than siting what he’s said in Scripture) but I think Baysider would agree that Jesus would be deeply saddened from watching msnbc and some of the YouTube stuff, but it would make him all that much more moved to pray for them and to forgive them and hope their hearts are open enough to change toward good virtues.

    Baysider, he lived a very full life but was so young, as you know….And young at heart and spirit. A few years short of 70. And in such otherwise good health his whole life …I like your mention of our works of gold that we do take with us. I will always remember his service as one of the best days in my life, oddly enough. The night before was the hardest night in my life, but that day reflected the goodness he had shared with friends and family.

    Mustang, what a great compliment… Mr Z really really admired and liked you, too, and certainly thought of you as a good friend in spite of not meeting in person…and yes, he can comprehend now and knows we still cannot. “For now we see in a mirror dimly, then we will see face to face….Now I know in part, then I will see fully, even as I am fully known.”
    I’ve mentioned here before that yours were the very first flowers I got after he passed away…..what a great kindness.
    Love you back. xzxx

  36. Baysider says:

    “I will always remember his service as one of the best days in my life.” I’m glad you commented on this, as I sensed that. I was sure praying for you for that day. MANY were. Prayers do matter.

    I hated funerals when I was very young. But I’ve come to recognize the part they play in celebration, ‘wrap up’ and consolation. I met an old friend from Virginia at our friend Dotty’s service. Even though she came out last year for Dotty’s retirement celebration, she commented “I don’t think I will ever attend another service as good as this.” Truly. We left filled with such a sense of solemnized joy.

  37. geeez2014 says:

    Yes, prayers do matter; and the service went so well and the music was so right, and it was in a Lutheran church for my husband whose childhood family didn’t attend church but who sang in the choir as a kid all on his own volition and enjoyment and was a believer….Remember that church
    was overflowing because of Bible Study and how many brought their husbands…amazing.

    My friend of 35 years died of cancer about 10 years ago; her husband had a lunch … for about 40 people….nobody even spoke but one of her two grown sons and the husband, for maybe five minutes each. We drove away from (I think it was LA Farm, great food, ambiance) the place and we talked about how unfinished we felt…we adored her and there was nothing….no religious mention, nothing. It’s tough to be at a funeral where people don’t know where their loved one is….unlike Dotty’s service where everyone knew EXACTLY where she was, right? :-_)

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