[Eugene O'Kelly] knew it was strange to be making a to-do list two days after learning he had three brain tumors; he also knew it was strange to count nearly a thousand people to whom he needed to say goodbye. But he clung to the role of good, methodical business manager because it worked for him. He would rethink dying from the ground up, so to speak. Then he would live differently during 1 percent of the 10,000 days he thought he had coming, having assumed he would survive into his late 70's. About 100 days were all he had left....Saying goodbye individually to a thousand people? That strikes me as a very strange way to use a small amount of time well.
But "Chasing Daylight" is far from uniformly flattering. It reveals a chilly, manipulative side to Mr. O'Kelly — or, as Mrs. O'Kelly puts it, "a 'cut to the chase' approach that had made him so successful in business but could sometimes come off as abrupt in personal interactions." When he set out to bid farewell to everyone he knew, one at a time, the meetings were arranged strictly on his terms. But it is the crumbling of this very rigidity that makes the book affecting. The author taught himself new survival strategies when the habits of a lifetime failed him.
January 30, 2006
A man given just months to live writes a guidebook on how to die: