When Art Buchwald, the beloved humourist and Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, learned that his kidneys had failed, he made the decision not to continue with dialysis.
Told by his doctors that death was imminent, he entered a hospice last February for what he thought would be a short stay. He ended up cheating death for nearly a year, enjoying every minute of it. The following is an excerpt from his comic memoir of hospice experiences, Too Soon to Say Goodbye. Buchwald died on January 17, 2007, at the age of 81, having tempered the sting with laughter.
I donâ€™t look like a person who is on his way out. I donâ€™t look that way at all. In fact, the first thing everyone says to me when they walk into the living room is, â€œYouâ€™ve never looked better!â€ Were I stuck in a room out of sight I wouldnâ€™t get that attention or notoriety. When people first come into the hospice they are very wary and careful. They donâ€™t quite know how to act or talk. They donâ€™t know if thereâ€™s hospice etiquette. Then, once they feel comfortable, they say, â€œJesus Christ, thereâ€™s no parking.â€ The thing that they say makes them the happiest is that we can still laugh together.
There are things to laugh about in the hospice, as are in every situation. When my lawyer, Bob Barnett, came to visit, I told him, â€œIf you can get me seven million dollars for my book like you got for Hillary Clinton, Iâ€™ll start dialysis.â€ There were people who showed up that I couldnâ€™t have cared less about. â€” Beliefnet.com