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Sat, Oct. 31

Barnes: A traveler’s guide to the end of the road

You are reading my last Daily Courier column which covers a span of 31 years. For those of you who took the time to read and then share your opinions about certain columns, thank you. Your thoughts and comments were important to me.

I’m now scribbling down the final pages of my life, a chapter that could be titled, “Good Samaritan Hospice and What Happens Next.”

This chapter is filled with a cast of characters I’m just getting to know: A nurse who stops in to check on how I’m doing and monitors my medications. A nursing assistant who makes sure I’m getting my showers and helps me keep my home at least reasonably tidy. Volunteers who run errands, buy needed groceries, bring me treats and visit with me. A chaplain and a social worker who are available for my comfort and support, plus a whole team of folks and friends working behind the scenes to make sure my remaining days go as smoothly as possible.

My hospice team is keeping me comfortable at home so I can keep doing what I love for as long as I can do it. They’ve developed a road map to guide me through these final weeks (or months) of my life. I plan to take the scenic route and enjoy the ride a while longer; visiting with friends, reading good books, enjoying the crisp fall weather and changing tree leaves.

I imagine what the map of my life might look like, unfolded and spread out over the dining room table. A few construction detours, a couple of missed exits, a stretch of bumpy gravel roads now and then, but mostly smooth pavement, with pencil marks circling favorite spots. The map would be wrinkled and worn, with edges fraying from all the folding and unfolding. Maybe there’s a few coffee stains on it. Just like life.

The fateful fact is I am looking forward to life “on the other side.” I have taken the first part of this trip before with my beloved Betsy, just a few years ago. It was hard to let her go on the final leg of the journey without me, but again, hospice was there to help guide us along the way.

In writing this final column I discovered that I needed a little help. The hospice folks suggested I contact one of their staff who possesses writing/editorial skills. I want to thank Kelly Paradis for being there for me. You are a precious jewel.

My special thanks to Tim Wiederaenders and the staff at The Daily Courier. Also, my deep appreciation to so many friends in Prescott Area Leadership, the Hungry Kids Project and other organizations who have enabled me to find special meaning in my life. I am a very fortunate and fulfilled man.

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