Pat Setser is an artist and writer. “I’m a member of the National League of American Pen Women, and have been for 16 years. I now sit on the board, and chair the membership committee. I go to Washington three times a year for board meetings.”
Most of Pat’s career was spent in the printing business. But she put all of her career on hold for several years to take care of her husband, who was found, during an unrelated surgery, to have cancer.
“I just pulled back in order to spend time with my husband. He was well for a period of time after the surgery, but they found that the cancer was in his lymph nodes, and when it’s there, it eventually will spread throughout your body.”
A terminal disease with no expiration date at the end of it usually prompts a reordering of one’s priorities.
“He lived almost five years, and during that time, when he was well, he was very active. He was involved in our church, and we made many trips to Ohio to visit our children and grandchildren.”
Pat’s husband had always wanted to go to Scotland to play golf, and they finally made that trip.
“He did not take his clubs because he wasn’t sure that he would up to playing. But when we went to Carnoustie, the staff said that we could walk out and follow some players. The played we joined told him to just use any of their clubs and to hit a few golf balls. When we finished, they invited us to their private club for lunch. Everyone in Scotland was so nice to us, we had a wonderful time.
Eventually, as the Setsers expected, the disease did progress.
“As he got very sick, we brought in hospice. My son said, ‘I always thought of death as an event, but it’s really a process.’ It was very peaceful. My husband was amenable to everything the hospice people told us, and he many, many visitors in the last month of his life.”
There is a bright side to most losses, though, and in Pat’s case … she regained control of her time, and how it was utilized.
“The responsibilities that I have now with organizations, I wouldn’t take on if he were still alive – I’d feel that I was taking time away from him. But he told me, ‘I want you to keep doing everything you enjoy doing. That way, I will know you will have a life after I’m gone.’”
If life is activity, and activity is life, then the time to be active is a valuable gift.
“I play tennis twice a week, I visit the sick once a week,” Pat says. “A day does not go by that I don’t think of him. My husband was a very wise man, and we had wonderful conversations. I miss him, and I know my children miss him a lot, too.”