Death was near, my body shutting down. I lay limp in my bed at home, barely aware of my wife, Kerry, and my mother at my side. All I felt was sadness. And regret. What a waste. I was an alcoholic, too often an embarrassment to Kerry and our two sons, Jared and Jake. I didn’t want my kids to see me like this.
Too late, that summer of ’92, I’d tried to get sober — cold turkey, here in my bed. But my liver and kidneys couldn’t take the sudden withdrawal. I could barely breathe, my lungs filling with fluid. A friend took me to the emergency room, where they gave me a blood transfusion, but the doctor’s face was grim.
“We need to put you on dialysis,” the doctor said. “That will give you time to say good-bye to your family.” I’d come home a day ago. I was still alive. Barely.
Forty-one years. What had I accomplished? I was proud of the boys. Jared was 12 and Jake was 10, my helpers on our family tree farm. I’d tried to encourage them, told them to never give up on their dreams. But Kerry was really the one who’d seen to their upbringing.
The farm, 150 acres in northern Michigan, was my other passion. We grew shade trees: maples, locusts, birch. Did my life even matter?