In February of this year, Art Buchwald, the Pulitzer prize-winning columnist, author, humorist, and pundit, was dying of kidney failure. Not only was he on dialysis, but vascular problems necessitated the amputation of his right leg. He was told that if he chose to do nothing he would almost certainly die within weeks.
He moved into a hospice and used his last days to talk about “the topic no one wants to talk about, death.” But he didn’t die; a few weeks after he moved into final care, for reasons nobody seems to understand, his kidneys started working again. He wound up spending five months in the hospice; during this time he wrote a new book, Too Soon to Say Goodbye. It’s a helluva story about death postponed.
In the hospice reception room which he calls his “salon,” he received a parade of visitors from schoolmates to celebrities, including Ethel Kennedy, Ben Bradley, Russell Baker, the Queen of Swaziland, and the Commander of the Marine Corps. He schmoozed with them all and ate whatever he wanted — from McDonalds’ milkshakes, to the lavish food people brought him.
In his inimitable style that moves from serious to hilarious, he tells us what it’s like to look at your own “dirt nap.”
“It’s amazing how many people visit you if you’re in a convenient location and they’ve been told you’re going to die.”
“People love talking to somebody who isn’t afraid to discuss death, as a matter of fact some of them have such a good time they come back again.”
“Dying is easy, parking is impossible.”
“I have no idea where I’m going, but here is the real question: what am I doing here in the first-place”
This book will make you laugh and also think seriously about life’s realities. He talks about his rich life, his boyhood in an orphanage, his dreams, and his bouts with depression. He is planning to write a sequel . . . I’m cheering for him.