For the past couple months I've been getting reports of the worsening condition of the man whom I have thought of as my stepfather for the past 15 years or so. George Lechelt came into my mother's life in 1997, seven years after the passing of my father to pancreatic cancer. George is a good man who has been an ideal companion to my mother during that time.
George was diagnosed with liver cancer in August, but it had probably been present for some time prior to that. He had been experiencing discomfort in the abdomen for some time, but had attributed it to digestive problems. We don't know for sure if it was the cancer then, but now we know for sure. As I write this, George lies in a comatose state in a hospital in Maryville, Tennessee. The doctors give him two days to two weeks--it looks like we're closer to the shorter prognostication.
I'll be leaving on Sunday (it's Friday night right now) to go back to Tennessee to say my good-bye to George and spend some time with my mother. She's having a tough time with this and I'm sure there are some very difficult days ahead for her. Since I live in California I rarely get to visit them. Fortunately, my brothers and sisters live close to our mother and will be able to give her plenty of support and love.
The upcoming days will be days of reflection and reminiscing. It will be one of those happy and sad times when families are brought together due to the passing of one. I'm getting to the age where I'll be having more and more times like this. There have been better reunions in the past and I hope more happier ones to come in the future. George's passing is going to leave a big empty space in the family gatherings.
Someday I'll write more about George, but I will say this about him now: George was one heck of an American patriot. He came to America from Poland when he was a young man. He served his adopted country in the U.S. Army after World War Two. He loved John Wayne movies, big band music, and anything that symbolized America. He had one of the biggest hearts of anyone I know.
George, even though you were heading toward 70 when I met you and I was pushing 50, I feel like I've known you all my life. I wish I could hear more of your stories and share more of your wisdom and passions in life. I was away so much of the time and never got to know you as well as I would have liked .
Life is like that. We think maybe next time we'll have time to visit more and talk more. But there never seems to be enough time. I'm going to miss George.