By Rick Fullerton | BioFor much of my life, I have had a private conversation about dying. It began as a young child, probably triggered by overhearing my parents talking about people fighting cancer or other scary diseases. When I was 12 and our family doctor knocked on the schoolroom door, my first thought was that he had figured out I was going to die. I was shocked to discover he had come to tell me my father had died of a heart attack at just 53. I was devastated! Our family survived, mainly due to the strength and resourcefulness of my mother, along with a supportive extended family and local community. As for me, I learned to deal with my fears mainly through my internal conversations. Never as I child did I talk about this secret and only rarely in later life. Yet looking back, it is possible to see how this fear of dying influenced many of my life decisions and shaped the person I am today.
got married when I was 21—much too young according to my Aunt Laura!
But my wife and I were anxious to get on with raising a family. No time
to waste seeing the world or pursuing idle interests! In those days of
single incomes and stay-at-home moms, my role was clear and I was
determined to provide for my family. Duty called!
milestones passed, my conversations about dying changed. At 30, I was
apparently in perfect health—no evidence of cancer,