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Barry Schrader


I wrote a column for the DeKalb Daily Chronicle for 8 years starting in December 2007 and running until November 2015. Then I returned to column writing in August 2016, all of them archived here.


If you've missed any please follow the links on the dates to catch up.

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Contemplating those last few months of life

By Barry Schrader Senior Columnist...................Feb. 2, 2017

I spotted a Wall Street Journal story back on Jan 26 that made me pause and think a bit. Quoting statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, it reported that the average man's life expectancy (based on 2013 stats) is 76.8 years.

Since I have passed my 76th birthday, a quick calculation would give me about eight more months, give or take a week or two, on this tired old globe. What should I do with those precious months? I posed that question to a half-dozen people I often see around town, and here's what three of them had to say:

Cemeteries make one pause to reflect
on their life

Dan Kenney: "Well, this is an interesting moment out of my day. Let's pause for a second to reflect on this thorny question, what would I do if I knew I had 8 months to live. Let's also assume I am of sound mind and body. I would hold those I love closer, spend more time being and less time doing. I would continue to work on the issues of hunger, health, poverty and justice that I presently work on. And I would make sure that I saw every sunset."

Mil Misic: "If I found out I was going to die very soon, what would I do? Answer: Same thing I have been doing. It is probably chutzpah (a Yiddish expression meaning a lot of nerve), as in the case of a child murdering his parents and then throwing himself on the mercy of the court because he is an orphan. If I haven't done well up to this point, how can I possibly make amends in the short time I have left for all the wrong things I may have done in a lifetime? A man hoeing his garden was once approached and asked this question. His reply: 'I'd jest keep on hoein.' That is all any of us can do. If we are satisfied with our lives ... just keep on hoeing."

Clark Neher: "I am one of those fortunate few who have had a marvelous life filled with positive times from childhood to old age. In my last eight months of life, I would like to build on these great moments. First, music has been, perhaps, my foremost love, and so I want to attend great operas and symphonies in the finest houses in the world, certainly including the Met in New York City, Covent Garden in London, and the Vienna opera house. Returning to these sites will remind me of the unimaginable perfection of the human spirit. Second, I want to travel to Southeast Asia, the place where I lived many years and learned about how diverse and fascinating the world's cultures can be. I want to immerse myself in Thai life and be reminded why I so admire that part of the world. Finally, in my last eight months I want to assure that my wife, children and grandchildren are in the best position to be enthralled with and touched by life's blessings."

They were all so introspective that I need another week to give it more thought, then make my own list. Meanwhile, maybe a few others will share their thoughts with me on this topic.

Stay healthy; If all goes well, I will be back next week in this same spot.

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Barry Schrader
PO Box 851
DeKalb, Ill 60115