Posted by: Clarinette | May 21, 2010

A Nomad From a Tribute of Nomad

Today, I am filled with the deepest sadness.
Sad as I am ‘remotely’ accompanying a cancer patient in his last hours.
I cannot do much from distance as the patient is, I guess ‘ready’ to take his last take off.

He was not a hero and his death won’t be heroic, just an ordinary man of 80+ years old dying of a cancer as died from the same illness his brother and sister.
What makes me sad is that the patient’s last wishes has been to never be called ‘Doctor’ anymore.

He studied his medicine in the South of France, Bordeaux, then immigrates to Quebec, when he specialized on Surgery. Later on, he did a specialization on ‘chirurgie reparatrice’ and had the pleasure of doing extreme surgery operations on war victims in the worst countries in the world. His last mission with ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres’ was in Haiti after the earthquake. He came back, extremely diminished and tired, he confessed to me, that was one of the worst situations he’d seen in his life.

In my view, he didn’t always take the best path in life, he erred from a country to a country never happy with what he could see. He could not fit into the profession. He could not stand his colleagues. more focused on their financial situations than caring about their patients health.

I did judged him sometimes and thought he should try to ‘comply’ with the social norms.

Sadly, he could not ‘play’ the game. He had no care about materiality. He had no care about money, house or fancy cars. He spread a lot of what he possessed around him and to his family. He was an ‘epucurien’, enjoyed good meals and good wines; convinced many of our sicknesses came from over eating and lack of physical activities. He kept fit and exercised, biking for miles or walking as long as he could before the disease would take advantage on him. Fervent skier, he initiated me on my first slopes. He loved reading and learning and I will always remember him asking me to read him aloud the Encyclopedia Universalis. I remember reading him the definition of ‘Epuciren’ in the French Encyclopedia. He loved languages and spoke quite a few. Always on a flight and traveling. He was my ‘oncle d’Amerique’ an idol of my teen ages.

Becoming older and more ‘mature’ I started to believe it was important to get ‘integrated’ to the society and did my best living a conformist life as much as I could.

I was one of the members of the family he always kept in contact wherever he traveled. He often called asking me to spread the world to everyone, saying ‘tell people I’m still alive, ‘Medecins Sans Frontieres’ send me to another hell but I survived.’

he was never what he was since the sudden lost of his wife whom he truly loved. He could not settle himself anywhere and everywhere he was unhappy.

What ever he did, wrong or right, he was a HUMAN. A human. Every single human, rich or poor, educated or not, should deserve dignity and respect. He looked after people’s health and take care of his patients with no care for money.

When he needed assistance after his cancer, he was at the point disappointed by the medical team’s attitudes, that he didn’t even want to mention he was one of them. When I talked to his doctor who, at our second sentence over the phone from London to Montreal told me he was finished, nothing could be done, and the hospital would send him to the communal burial, I felt very sad for him and even more for all of us survivals. We are a sick society if we throw away our ill patients probably because their appearance is simple.

A special delicacy to my new friends Deb and Octavia.



  1. This is one of the most beautiful tributes I’ve ever read. And, it is so very true. I’ve seen this with a very close friend I lost to cancer 4 years ago. She was terminal and ended up in the ER several times. Since the doctors knew she was terminal, she was truly discarded. I had to fight for simple things like clean linens, a cup of water, some ice.

    Well written my friend.

  2. Very moving piece.. Thanks for sharing it with us. May he go peacefully and find his calling beyond this life!!

  3. Thank you Octavia for your note, I think you would understand what I’m feeling as somewhere, you are yourself part of this nomad tribute.

    Yes Deb, dying with dignity is a luxury not for everyone. I have no for of death, its part of are little certitudes in life, the lease is temporary. The day will come when we’ll have to clear the room and leave for ever. They will always be ups and downs in our life with mistakes and success. I feel today, the worst that could happen, is to exit with disgrace.

  4. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Briercliffe, DebDobson. DebDobson said: @mikejulietbravo Thank you for the RT of @clarinette02's beautiful post. […]

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