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'Are You a Tigger or an Eeyore?'

Carnegie Mellon University professor Randy Pausch is living his last months with pancreatic cancer. He delivered his last lecture in September. It was meant for his children, not the public or colleagues or students, and has been watched by millions of people. His words and lessons have touched many and changed lives and become a book along the lines of "Tuesdays With Morrie." The book, "The Last Lecture", is No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller List

In the original lecture he put talk of his family off limits because it would make him cry. In interviews afterward, though, he has given glimpses into his life. On Primetime with Diane Sawyer, he and wife, Jai, talk about life now. He's more tired. His body temperature won't regulate. But, as he says in his typically jovial manner, he's living and enjoying spending time with his wife.

A previous interview after the speech, showed his three children, Dylan, 6; Logan, 3; and Chloe, almost 2. Randy and Jai, who now live in Virginia, have decided to wait to tell their children their dad is dying until he looks and acts sick.

"Under the ruse of giving an academic lecture," he wrote in the book's introduction, "I was trying to put myself in a bottle that would one day wash up on the beach for my children."

If you were in his shoes, how would you live your life? What legacy of yourself do you want to leave your children?

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By Stacey Garfinkle |  April 11, 2008; 7:04 AM ET
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Comments


woah, I DVRd the Primetime special and haven't watched it yet. I'm not sure I have the capability to respond to this on a Friday a.m. so I'm just going to lurk today.

Posted by: moxiemom | April 11, 2008 9:17 AM | Report abuse

Um, ergh, this column (and the WaPo article) hit home way more than anything else I've read on here. My father passed away from pancreatic cancer at the age of 49 when I was in high school, and a lot of this is eerily similar to what he went through. I vividly remember my father (who was unable to speak at the end and weighed less than 100 pounds) turning to me on the day he passed away and winking at me. He was definitely a Tigger. So hard to write this without crying! But I'm glad to know the book is out there (I hadn't heard of it, or Professor Pausch, before). Thanks for posting this. Time to dry my eyes now!

Posted by: PLS | April 11, 2008 10:08 AM | Report abuse

Saw most of the special. Just got a phone call from my older one saying she earned a low grade in a class in which she had previously told me that she earned an A. Trying my best to remember some of the ideas Pausch shared during the hour long interview... and to be a tigger. Makes me realize that it's harder than saying it or reading it to live it. Every day in every situation the big picture is not always easy to see.
Will count to ten when I see her today and then read the book...

Posted by: ugh | April 11, 2008 11:22 AM | Report abuse

I have thought about this many times in my adult life. My father was diagnosed as being termanilly ill when he was 30. At the time I was 6 and my brother was 18 months old. For the next five years he lived in our home with my mother taking care of him and us and them trying to function as normally as possible. During all that time he never complained, never screamed and yelled just lived with dignity and as much strength as he could muster day to day.

I often wonder if I could do the same, could I be brave and strong and not let my kids see my anger and frustration at my life being cut short. I don't know. My father died at the age of 35 and as I approached my 35th birthday I thought about him constantly. I think I would have been so angry--there is so much I still want to do and accomplish how could he have just come to the place where he accepted it? I know he probably had times of anger and bitterness but he and my mom were very careful to not let us kids see it. They tried to make family time special for us and focused on us. I have often wished I have a time capsule from him, home movies something more tangible then the memories I share with my kids, brother and mom.

I hope I wouldn't live my life too differently then I do now. Maybe not so focussed on the little details but more big picture oriented. I try to live my life living well, laughing often and loving much.

Posted by: magnificent7mom | April 11, 2008 12:03 PM | Report abuse

I guess this is the good part about not compromising who you are when it comes to the big personal choices- I'd leave exactly what I am doing. They don't need to be "crazy/alternative/wacky" like their crazy aunt Liz, but they need to know they have the CHOICE and that while being true to yourself is the hardest thing out there, it's also the only thing worth being.

Posted by: Liz D | April 11, 2008 2:04 PM | Report abuse

there is also the reverse of this. when my mother was sying the hospice people told me that sometimes people hung on & hung on and that the best i could do was encourage her to let go. so for the last 5 minutes of her life my mother heard me tell her that she'd been a good mother, how much i loved her, how much i appreciated her and that i would be all right without her. meanwhile the little girl inside me was thinking "don't go! don't go!" i still am not sure whether it was the right thing to do. i don't think i could have stopped her from dying but it sure sounds cold blooded.

Posted by: quark | April 11, 2008 2:32 PM | Report abuse

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