How does an individual handle the news of a way-too-early and unwanted death?
What does he or she do to let their children know that they love them unconditionally and worked as hard as possible to make a difference in the world they’re living in?
How do you convey the amount of love and respect you have for your spouse while your time with them continues to diminish?
How do you thank all of the mentors, coaches, teachers and colleagues that have helped you along your way?
How do find the strength to do all of this while fighting a terminal case of cancer?
Randy Pausch’s “Last Lecture,” a truly inspirational story of a highly accomplished academician, husband and father who faces the reality that he only has a short time left on this earth, takes the reader on an amazing ride from childhood dreamlands to the pinnacle of personal and professional life.
As the story begins, Pausch, a tenured professor at Carnegie Mellon University, is given the very grim news that he has pancreatic cancer and, in all likelihood, will live less than one year from the day he received his diagnosis. A terrible stomach ache and overall loss of energy brought him to the hospital for what he thought was jaundice or worse yet, possibly hepatitis.
What he and his wife Jai (pronounced “Jay”) didn’t know then was that Pausch’s pancreas was covered with tumors. Most people, faced with tumors of this size and frequency, would be scared into seclusion and depression. Not Randy Pausch.
His life continued. Actually, continued is an understatement; prospered would be a greater description of Pausch’s life after the grim diagnosis.
What began as an Internet phenomenon has now grown into the most inspirational story of the year, supported by a best-selling book and an ABC News interview (re-airing sometime this week). If this is the first time you’ve heard of Randy Pausch, it’s definitely not going to be the last.
Stop by the library or local bookstore and pick up a copy of his book and read it. You’ll stop counting the pages - you’ll think about the encouraging words, lessons shared, happy endings and remarkable strength of this man who is not so different from you and me.
Pausch’s childhood dreams, his days as a scrawny youth, his almost failed attempt at graduate school, his life as a successful computer scientist, his courtship and marriage to his wife, his fathering of three children and so much more are used metaphors to convey what truly matters most in life – topics such as telling the truth, loving hard and never giving up.
Randy Pausch died on Friday, July 25, at the age of 47. While I sat reading the last pages of his book, I couldn’t help but wonder if he knew that his story would live and grow for generations to come. I like to think he did.
Hasco Craver is executive director of the Commerce Downtown Development Authority. He lives in Commerce.